After this year’s Local Government Elections (LGE), elected officers are expected to benefit from training to manage the system in a three – stage approach aimed at strengthening the system of local governance at the level of the neighbourhood.The move is in keeping with the Ministry of Communities new philosophy which is to equip and empower Local Democratic Organs to function with independence.
The Ministry stated in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) that LGE allows for a democratic renewal, with capacity-building and institutional strengthening within the new councils recognised as being of key importance to the process.
“What will occur is that following the elections of March 18, 2016, whilst these new councilors will bring enthusiasm and energy, many of them may lack the experience required to properly discharge their responsibilities,” GINA stated.
It said that the second approach entails its responsibility to provide training to local government officers, namely the new town clerks, overseers, administrative personnel, and councilors.
Against this backdrop, the Ministry is currently involved in putting together training manuals to address this obligation. As regards the financing of the councils, the Ministry said that the funding from Government will be decided by Cabinet after a revaluation and evaluation of property tax exercise to assist in the area of self-funding. Universally, councils receive funding from local sources that are within their jurisdiction. However, this has not occurred in Guyana since the Central Government controlled the funding and by extension operation of the council.
“The foundation is being laid so that going forward following the elections of March 18, next year, that there will be no more central control,” the release stated.
COOPERATION AND COLLABORATION
While reiterating the independence of the local democratic organs, the Ministry said that the “hand of control”, which existed in the past will be replaced by “a hand of cooperation and collaboration”.
It added that the Central Government, Ministry of Communities and the Regional and Local Democratic organs will go forward in partnership, following a new strategic direction in which the local organs will be allowed to function with the autonomy and the authority that are needed for them to be effective.
Local Government Elections were last held in Guyana in 1994 and after assuming office last May, the David Granger administration has pledged to fulfill its promise made during the elections campaign to hold LGE.
According to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in compliance with Article 71 of the Constitution, 71Local Authority Areas comprising six municipalities or towns and 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) have been established in Guyana.
The two primary objectives of a local government are to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of communities and also, to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities. Some of the key goals of the LGE are to improve the local environment, provide and develop local open space and recreation facilities, set strategic policy directions and to prepare annual plans, budgets and long-term council community plans.
In addition, the elections are also aimed at providing an infrastructural and planning framework in which communities can grow and the economy can flourish. Its goals include the coordination with other agencies operating locally such as the police and the promotion of cultural and sporting events, local visitor and tourism events.
To vote in the elections on March 18, one must be 18 years or over by a qualifying date to be set by GEOM. He /she must be registered and living in the municipality or NDC and the constituency in which he/she is desirous of voting to be able to vote under both the Proportional Representation and the Constituency components of the election. Eligible candidates must also be listed on the Register of Voters for the Municipality or NDC in which he/she is desirous of voting.