Home Letters Another call for urgent establishment of Local Government Commission
Statistically, sometimes we do not have to go back very far to accurately project the outcomes and likely results of certain behaviours. Likewise, one could anticipate with robust certainty that the many prejudiced decisions coming out of the Ministry of Communities with the blessings of Cabinet were to have significant current and future negative spin-offs. It could be likened to taking an exploratory forest adventure while marking your return path with salt. Then when you have travelled several miles into unchartered territory, the rain falls!!!!!!!! Such has been the mantra of the APNU/AFC coalition on many Local Government and other important issues. The recent heavy rainfall has certainly exposed their ability to govern this country in the interest of most citizens. At the same time, the elements continuously highlight the numerous falsities in their farcical agendas. This writer has, on numerous occasions, drawn attention to the jaundiced approached by the Minister to the empowerment of the elected councils in many Local Authority Areas (LGAs). The fact that the several Regional Executive Officers and Overseers are allowed to do whatever they wish at the fancy of the Minister is actually an indictment on democracy at even the regional and community levels.
In essence, it is contradictory that these administrative officers are the approved Clerk of the elected Councils, but the Councils are not allowed to invoke fair disciplinary measures when deliberate and abhorrent practices define the conduct of these individuals. The oversight provided by the Regional Councils to many Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) also comes with much bureaucratic measures and practices.
The foregoing often enough lends to counterproductive approval periods and time pressured periods for implementation of approved and necessary projects. This approach is being utilised to manipulate the conditions of issues of contracts, and to which selective contractors are chosen by the political bosses of the coalition for the resulting shabby works.
We have witnessed the constant delaying of parliament-approved releases of subventions to which the Minister attributes several previous performance conditions. Often times, by the time these releases are made, more than half of the fiscal period would have passed, thereby delaying the practicality of having meaningful projects completed.
The deliberate non-implementation of the Local Government Commission and the combination of the common aforementioned issues have been having significant negative impacts across LAAs. There are also serious complaints of the impassible interior roads, as well as many roads and streets in the LAAs, are now having massive pot-holes. Amidst the outlined framework, we therefore wish to applaud the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council for its tireless efforts in getting approvals, and for the excellent work in cleaning the drainage canals, and particularly for filling some pot-holes in the streets.
It is appreciated that some NDCs have now receive part of their annual subvention from the Government. It is also noted the delaying approach of this APNU/AFC coalition on Government is very frustrating and suboptimal to the programmes of many LAAs. Imagine, we are already in the seventh month of the year and the Government has released only half of the annual subventions to the LAAs. Given that the subvention can only be spent on capital works, the responsible Minister should state when he expects the works to be completed, or whether he has a different accounting period.
As we approach the end of the year, when all works must be tendered out and completed, the Councillors have complained that the Ministry of Communities and the Government apparatus, particularly the REOs, are frustrating their efforts to get things done in the LAAs. It seems that the new approach by the coalition in areas where they lost the Local Government elections is to encourage the undermining of councils by the politically placed REOs and overseers.
It is acceptable that in managing LAAs, all NDCs must, at minimum, make a list of all roads, streets, schools, health facilities, markets, drainage & irrigation, community centers and all other things to be done, and have discussions with the communities. The Councils in LAAs must be allowed to function with some amount of autonomy, whilst the Councillors must be allowed to exercise their commitment in tandem with their intimate communal knowledge in working to enhance the lives of the communities.
NDC’s leadership must be respectable people in whom the community has shown confidence. They must seek interventions from corporate, private sector and donors in the Diaspora. Many NDCs are presently moving to make clear demarcation on what are the responsibilities of the Regional Democratic Council and the Central Government. Among the reasons is that, in 2016, Central Government budgeted for works to be done in several LAAs. However, the APNU/AFC coalition Government has bluntly refused to do the work because they lost the Local Government support in the areas. Another example is that, in 2015, APNU/AFC collation budgeted to build a health centre in Eccles. We are in 2017 and nothing yet has happened in this respect.
The NDCs must be careful in screening the rollover projects for 2015 to 2016, and 2016 rollover for 2017. Several NDCs are questioning the Government for not doing what was budgeted. It is extremely difficult for the citizens in our country to live under this Administration, which cannot get things done for the people.
The biggest stumbling block in the Local Government system is Minister Ronald Bulkhan. This Minister announced numerous dates when he promised to establish the Local Government Commission, to no avail. Today, almost all the REOs in the regions are experiencing serious problems because of the political interventions. As the Ministry of Communities tries to direct the work of the regions and the NDCs, very little is being done to enhance the lives of people in the Local Government Areas.
Let us, with one united voice, say, ‘Establish the Local Government Commission now!’