Bulkan denies interference with Local Govt Commission

first_imgCommunities Minister Ronald Bulkan has stoutly denied allegations made by several Local Government Commission members that there continues to be an unprecedented level of interference by Central Government in the affairs of local municipalities and democratic organs.But most recently, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) members on the Commission had much to say about the workings of the Commission. Chief among their many concerns is what they term the usurpation of their powers and the direct interference of Central Government in the affairs of the Commission.Commissioners Norman Whittaker, Clinton Collymore and Carol Sooba were sworn in since October 2017. However, these Commissioners claimed that the body is being propped up as just a front, while Central Government essentially runs the show. They also complained that Government has been stymieing themCommunities Minister Ronald Bulkanat every level, whereas Government is actually supposed to ensure the Commission’s autonomy.Former Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker had related that the Government has been written to on numerous occasions about the situation. However, the situation remains very much the same, and when contacted by those desirous of making complaints, they cannot refer the complainant to an office.But Bulkan told Guyana Times on Wednesday at the sidelines of a signing ceremony that the allegations are far from truth.The Minister also went as far to say that there is neither any interference in the Local Government Organs which includes Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). He noted that his Ministry is committed to a partnership with all parties, and looks forward to the restoration and rehabilitation of what he described as a damaged system of local Government.“Finances to fund the work of our NDCs and municipalities have to be internally generated. They do not come from the centre but the Central Government does provide subventions and financial resources. But the major obligation and responsibility to our organs is for their funding to be internally generated.”The Commission was sworn in October last year, after a lengthy delay. The parliamentary Opposition had named its nominees to the Commission since 2016. However, since the Government did not submit its nominations, this resulted in a deadlock.One of the first public deadlines that Minister Bulkan gave for the body to become functional was at a press conference during the time of the March 2016 Local Government Elections. Asked for an explanation during the latter part of the month, the Minister had moved the deadline to the end of June 2016.In the Budget estimates for 2016, some $30 million were allocated by the Government to the non-functioning commission. When asked, Bulkan had stated that this was to allow the Commission to operate independently of Central Government.The Commission is charged with, among other things, control over who gets appointed as officials in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and other local authorities. In addition, it would have to approve budgets for the NDCs.By law, the Commission is to be made up of eight members. The members of the Commission include four nominated from the Government, one from the unions, and three nominees from the Leader of the Opposition. The Commission’s members also include, Mortimer Mingo, Clement Corlette, Marlon Williams, Jo Ann Romascindo, and Andrew Garnett.As the issues over the Commission continues to fester, elected PPP Opposition officials are highlighting, through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Government appointed Regional Executive Officers (REOs) of operating contrary to finance laws in Regional Democratic Councils. However, Government has described it as “little aberrations,” noting that Government has been training its REOs.last_img read more