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It would be remiss of me not to comment on what is passing for Local Governance and epitomises the current regime`s approach to Governance; and more importantly not to suggest what was intended and is doable for the achievement of Good Governance in Local Government.
In a previous letter I identified where the Minister of Local Government was vesting himself with authority that is not his, and in so doing sought to curtail Local Democratic Councils from exercising the authority which the Parliament bequeathed them, to wit the authority to adjust the rates for the purpose of exacting taxes on properties and ultimately raising revenues. Section 54(2) of the Local Government Act reads thus: “If, after discussion and, if necessary, altering and amending the estimate and the rate proposed, the local authority by a majority of votes agrees upon an estimate and a rate, such estimate and rate shall be transmitted to the Minister for notification.” The Minister was instructing local authorities that they are not authorised to effect new rates as provided for in the Local Government laws. He has no such authority.
The misrepresentation of the provisions of the Laws of Guyana, and the unlawful attempt to exercise authority in relation to local authorities, seems to be the culture of some, who are vested with some authority in Local Government System, as is also the case in most quarters. This is exactly what the Chairman of the Local Government Commission demonstrated when he asserted that in between meetings of the Commission, ‘he is the Commission’ and under that guise sought to remove the Acting Town Clerk of the Mayor and City Councilors of Georgetown and appoint someone he deemed fit. There is no such provision in the Local Government Commission Act, Act No. 18 of 2013 as assented to by President Ramotar on November 6, 2013. Faber`s act is ultra vires and unlawful. The Commission has to meet and be quorate before such decisions can be made.
Let`s assume he had such authority, and let`s give him the benefit of the doubt. Administrative Law has been enhanced and strengthened to ensure that discretionary powers are not exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably. There must be good reason for such decisions. Faber in his phoney communication proffered the following: this decision “is to facilitate the Commission embarking on the process of substantively filling the post of Town Clerk.” Faber would be hard put to explain the nexus between his proclaimed intent and removing the sitting Acting Town Clerk. The intrigue does not end there. It has also been reported that “members were asked at their statutory meeting … to agree to have acting Town Clerk Sherry Jerrick revert to her substantive post … due to underperformance” quite contrary to what the letter conveyed and in the absence of any process or finding in that regard.
What a tangled web the Chairman seemed to have weaved.
It is unfortunate that the Commission, and the Chairman in particular, has not given priority to the institutional development of the Commission. The legislation provides for the Commission to make regulations for the conduct of its affairs. Such a development would create the basis for the Commission to be transparent rather than nefarious in its operations. Rather than giving leadership to the development of local government, the Commission seems to be going down a path of maleficence and Bad Governance.
What is illustrated above is pervasive in the current scheme of Governance and undermines the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The people are constantly schooled about the Rule of Law while those in authority embrace lawlessness.
The country is crying out for Good Governance rather than political machinations that are hindrances to human rights and nation building. No amount of wealth generation can substitute for the realisation of human rights and institutional development, which are the corner stones of nation building.
Local Government Task Force