Oct 11, 2015 News
…APNU+AFC determined not to make the mistake of PPP — Bulkan
With Local Government Elections likely by next April, the administration has begun taking steps to devolve power from the Central Executive to the Regional bodies.
As such, the Ministry of Communities—which holds responsibility for the local democratic organs, namely the Regional and Neighbourhood Democratic Offices—yesterday commenced a ‘Round Table Inquiry,’ targeting the formulation of Plans of Action for Regional Development (PARDs).
The group of Executive Officers gathered at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre along with Ministers of Communities, Ronald Bulkan and Dawn Hastings-Williams and representatives of: IDEA International, Conservation International, UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF, CARILED and the University of Guyana.
Delivering the keynote address to those gathered at the Convention Centre and tasked with developing the regional agendae, Minister Bulkan reminded that Government is committed to the process of the decentralizing of power.
Guyana, he said, is too big to be managed effectively from a centralized point.
This, he said, was long recognized, since in 1980 when the requisite legislation brought into being the several local government organs, meant to give effect to democracy as envisaged under the Guyana Constitution.
According to the Minister, Guyana’s supreme law—its Constitution—does not provide for a single central government but rather, for administrative bodies across the 10 Regions and their constituent NDCs.
In crafting their development strategies, Bulkan told the RDC officials that they must pay careful attention when addressing issues of local government, local democracy and the role, scope and authority of the RDCs.
The Round Table Inquiry, according to Bulkan, forms part of the process of advancing the very important agenda – that of national development.
“We are here to articulate a framework and to outline as far as we can, a particular strategic vision in relation to the management of our country and the role of our RDCs,” said Bulkan.
The Minister of Communities was adamant that Regional Administration and Regional Development are integral to the construct of Local Government.
The Minister said that the forum was organized to begin to give effect “to constitutional provisions related to how our country should be managed.”
The coalition A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Administration, according to Minister Bulkan, “is fully committed to the process of decentralization and in this regard and as part of that strategic agenda, is the main reason why we are here today to advance a particular aspect of that overall framework which is the creation of Plans of Action for Regional Development.”
He also committed the administration to working collaboratively with the regional democratic organs to fulfill their mandates.
The administration, he said, “will respect your role and authority, we will seek to empower you…The administration will seek to cooperate with all of our local government organs, in particular the RDCs.”
Minister Bulkan said that as long as the constitutional provisions for local government, decentralization and devolution of powers are not honoured, “we will not truly unlock our enormous potential…We will fail our people particularly our young people and this administration is determined not to make the mistake of our predecessors.”
At present the local democratic organs in many cases are under-resourced and as such lack the capacity to play any meaningful role in delivering their mandates.
Presenting an overview of the expectations of the Round Table Inquiry, Minister within the Ministry, Dawn Hastings-Williams, lamented that for too long the regional administrations have been operating without a long term vision.
“We have recognized that for too long our regional administration has been trying to give satisfaction to the residents throughout the regions without having a visionary plan that would help them carry out their activities throughout the regions,” said Minister Hastings-Williams.
According to the Minister, from time to time there would be ad hoc and lofty ideas presented as viable regional development models but none have evolved into working long term visionary plans for any of the 10 Geographic Regions.
This state of affairs is untenable, according to Minister Hastings-Williams and has led in part to the Ministry of Communities looking to have PARDs developed for the 10 Regions, cognizant of the specific requirements of each.
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