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…accuses Local Gov’t Minister of misleading Parliament
By Svetlana Marshall
A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, Ganesh Mahipaul, in accusing the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall of misleading the National Assembly, said the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is secretly transforming Community Development Councils (CDCs) into political organs.
In the National Assembly last October, Mahipaul tabled a written question, seeking to acquire from the Local Government Minister, the names of all the Community Development Councils established across Guyana.
During the sitting of the Assembly on December 23, 2020, Minister Dharamlall, in his written response, said: “When the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic Government took office in August, 2020 there were no records of any Community Development Councils being established. The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development is currently consulting with the citizens across the country with a view of establishing Community Development Councils.”
But Mahipaul on Tuesday told Village Voice News that not only were there CDCs when the PPP/C took office, but the Minister acknowledged their existence, in announcing his plans to increase the current number.
In the state-owned Guyana Chronicle, the Local Government and Regional Development Minister was quoted
twice on October 1, 2020 and December 6, 2020, as saying that there were between 175 to 200 CDCs established across the country.
“With 175 Community Development Councils (CDCs) already up and running, the Government is seeking to establish a minimum of 1,000 CDCs across Guyana,” Minister Dharamlall was quoted as saying in the article dated December 6, 2020 under the headline ‘Some 1,000 CDCs to be established nationwide.’
The APNU+AFC Member of Parliament told Village Voice News that upon taking office in 2015, the coalition restructured the CDC apparatus to allow for inclusivity. “When we took office in 2015, we inherited a political organisation headed by Philomena Sahoye-Shury,” he said, while noting that the APNU+AFC Government restructured the CDC to allow for a bottom-up approach.
The APNU+AFC Parliamentarian said he is now concerned that the CDCs are not being established in a fair and transparent manner. “Information reaching me is suggesting that these CDCs are political organs of the PPP,” he said.
He said there is a clear procedure for the establishment of CDCs. “Say for example, if you are going to have a CDC [set up] in Parfaite Harmonie, then you are expected to have a public invitation issued to the residents of Parfaite Harmonie for them to attend a general meeting, where this concept could be introduced to them, and the community will then entrust responsibilities to people within their community to hold the positions of chairman, vice chairman, secretary, treasurer and the like,” Mahipaul explained. He said such a system allows for easy access to and dissemination of information.
However, according to him, CDCs are now PPP/C led organisations and not people-led organisations. “I am contending that the formalization of the CDCs is being done in a secretive manner, and only persons perceived to be aligned with the PPP party are a part of the operation and groupings and monies, tax payers’ monies through the SLED programme, and through various other programmes are being channeled to a political organisation that does not encapsulate the entire community,” he contended.
Mahipaul said the Minister of Local Government must come clean on the situation.