Jan 17, 2022 Letters
I had the privilege of reading a letter in the Stabroek newspaper dated January 13, 2022, bearing the caption, “The tall coconut tree is still hanging dangerously over my house even after the president spoke with his minister,” where the writer indicated that he had to seek the intervention of the President as a last resort, after failing to get a response from top region #2 officials and even the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development.
Editor, it is extremely sad that this simple matter had to reach the President but greater than that is the worry over the disrespect to our Local Democratic Organs. A matter of this nature simply required the intervention of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in which the village Onderneeming Sand Pit falls and that is Riverstown/Annandale NDC.
My investigation of the matter revealed that the NDC does not enjoy the privilege of functioning independently as enshrined by the Constitution of Guyana, rather is frequently controlled and directed by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. Communication with several other officials of several other NDCs revealed that the Minister has a ‘WhatsApp’ group with all the Overseers of the 70 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and it is alleged that Overseers are mandated to take their guidance and direction from the Minister and other officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
Editor, this practice is against the principles of Local Democracy and a slap in the face of the Constitution of Guyana and the President should not tolerate such callous behaviour from his Minister. Article 71 (1) of our constitution is pellucid and it states, “Local Government 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.” Article 74 must also be mentioned, and it states, “(1) It shall be the primary duty of local democratic organs to ensure in accordance with law the efficient management and development of their areas and to provide leadership by example. (2) Local democratic organs shall organise popular co-operation in respect of the political, economic, cultural and social life of their areas and shall co-operate with the social organisations of the working people. (3) It shall be the duty of local democratic organs to maintain and protect public property, improve working and living conditions, promote the social and cultural life of the people, raise the level of civic consciousness, preserve law and order, consolidate the rule of law and safeguard the rights of citizens.
I therefore take this opportunity as the Opposition Member of Parliament with responsibilities for Local Government and Regional Development to call on President Irfaan Ali to respect the Constitution of this beautiful country and continue the process of empowering Local Democratic Councils, which began in 2015 under the APNU+AFC administration. Allow the elected Councillors of the NDCs and Municipalities to govern in keeping with the spirit of the Constitution.
Member of Parliament
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