Latest update March 31st, 2023 12:59 AM
Jun 27, 2013 News
-wants Parliamentary passage before August recess
The diplomatic community, for the second time in about six months, has called for early local government elections. Yesterday it called on the National Assembly to pass critical legislations before an August 10 recess.
The National Assembly would break for two months and failure to have the Bills passed before could very well push the elections to next year.
Local government elections have not been held since 1994 and have been blamed for a structural breakdown of governance at the community level. Corruption and mismanagement have now become a major problem with development at risk, critics have said.
Yesterday, a joint statement from the diplomatic and business community noted that at the start of 2013, political party leaders, civil society, private sector representatives and members of the diplomatic community all expressed confidence that this would be the
year in which Guyana would move forward to ensure that its citizens benefit from strong and effective local governance.
“We are now midway through the year and, with a concerted effort, local government elections — and the safer, more prosperous, and more democratic communities they can help build — are within reach.”
The joint statement was issued by the local embassies of the US, British High Commission, European Union and Canada. It also listed the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Manufacturing and Service Association, the Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Private Sector Commission and the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. as the other stakeholders who are concerned.
It was only recently that the Parliamentary Select Committee completed its work after agreeing on contentious issues. It now has to be sent back to the National Assembly for debate and passage.
“After months of debate, hard work, and compromise, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government has forged agreement on the four Bills necessary to establish a more modern and effective system of local governance. This is a significant and positive step forward. We welcome this action on the part of Guyana’s elected representatives to come together in the national interest.”
The statement said that the path is now clear for approval of these four bills in the National Assembly before the upcoming annual recess. ”We encourage all parties, with the support of civil society, to build on the constructive progress and goodwill thus far achieved to complete these vital pieces of legislation in the coming days so that technical preparations for local government elections can begin as soon as possible.”
The parties said that they look forward to supporting the Guyana Elections Commission, the Government of Guyana and civil society organizations as they move forward to prepare for local government elections this year.
“There is much work ahead to boost public knowledge of the local government election process, the role of local government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens and elected officials.”
The statement said that Guyana’s constitution has made it clear that the Local Government structure is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live.
“All of Guyana’s political parties have consistently affirmed their commitment to holding local elections and reinvigorating local government entities. The Private Sector Commission, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Guyana Trades Union Congress and many other stakeholders have likewise raised their voices to reinforce this national consensus.”
The path is now clear for the restoration of effective democratic local governance in 2013.
“That is good news for the citizens in every community in Guyana,” the statement said.
In early January, the four missions issued a similar statement saying that there is no valid justification for further delay in holding the local government elections this year.
The four are among some of Guyana’s biggest donor communities. Government has been moving to replace a number of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and even townships with Interim Management Committees (IMC). It has met with some resistance, like in Kwakwani, Region Ten.
Elections were delayed time and again after the Opposition demanded critical changes to existing laws. The legislations sent earlier this year to the Select Committee were the Fiscal Transfers Bill, the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government Commission Bill.
Both Government and the Opposition have expressed fears that there may not be enough time for elections this year.
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