THE Ministry of Communities yesterday hosted a Municipal Leadership Consultation under the theme, ‘Unveiling a vision for Municipal Development’, with emphasis on exploring avenues that would assist Municipalities to be financially capable of funding their Work Programmes. The roundtable consultation that allowed frank and cordial discussions was held at the Ministry of Communities De Winkle Building boardroom.
In attendance were Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan; Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Dawn Hastings-Williams; Permanent Secretary; Emil Mc Garrell, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Abena Moore; Member of Parliament, Michael Carrington; Mayors of Georgetown and New Amsterdam, Hamilton Green and Claude Henry respectively; and Chairpersons of Linden, Rose Hall, Anna Regina and Corriverton Interim Management Committees, Orrin Gordon, Winston Hope, Mark McLean and Everett Hearwood, respectively.
Minister Bulkan, in his opening remarks, identified three interconnected stages that would allow Municipalities to function with authority and autonomy, namely: Democratic renewal through Local Government Elections; institutional strengthening and capacity building; and financial security and funding of Councils.
The financial security and funding of Councils is the most critical and important stage in determining how successful Councils are in achieving their Work Programmes, and providing adequate services to citizens.
Minister Bulkan is of the view that the Fiscal Transfers Act should determine how Municipalities explore measures and mechanisms of increasing revenue. He was clear that the Fiscal Transfers Act does not mandate central government to transfer money to the Local Democratic Organs. Rather, it provides for the central government to allocate funds to Local Democratic Organs upon discretion. The Act provides for Local Democratic Organs to approach different avenues to garner revenues such as grants from donors and charging fees for parking.
He emphasised that rates collection should be the main source of revenue for Councils. However, many Local Democratic Organs are challenged by low rates collection and low rates and taxes rates. The minister stressed that the last valuation of property was done decades ago. As such, there has to be new valuations to reflect rates collection of the 21st Century.
Delivering remarks on behalf of the Municipalities, Mayor Green expressed thanks to the ministry for hosting the consultation. He noted that the Municipalities are satisfied with the focus of the consultation, and are pleased that the suffocation mask has been removed. (Ministry of Communities)