– Bill tabled in parliament to get more councillors, local leadership
THE People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is moving to the National Assembly to have all the boundaries of local authority areas and communities revert to what they were in 2016 before being changed by the former APNU+AFC Government.
This will give more citizens the opportunity to get local leadership because the areas will also have more councillors, with the corrected and extended boundaries creating a greater representation.
Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall, said the paper was already presented to the House on November 7. He said that it is on the order paper as subsidiary legislative amendments to local authority boundaries.
“In 2018, the APNU+AFC changed many of the local councils (Neighbourhood Democratic Councils) reducing constituencies and forcing people into constituencies where they [APNU+AFC] had the majority … [gerrymandered the boundary lines]. So, what we have basically done, is to revert all those constituencies that were changed in 2018 back to the 2016 [election] boundaries lines,” he confirmed.
He further stated that these necessary actions must occur if local government organs and areas are to continue functioning smoothly.
“In Region One, where Mabaruma is concerned we have extended that boundary to include the residents of Wauna because they have basically been living without local government representation. It is important to bring them into the local government system so that they are part of the local authority area and they can benefit from the investments through local government,” Minister Dharamlall said.
He related: “In Region Three there are villages which are not part of a local authority area, and we have decided to include them because they also require services that are usually provided by the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs).”
Moreover, in Region Five, additional communities are being streamlined for representation, where there are non-existent. The minister, however, pointed out that “it is not a massive amount of people, but what we want is to reach every single person in terms of our development agenda.”
In Region Six, the legislation is being amended to create two NDCs which will improve representation.
“We have done consultation across these specific areas and everyone is happy to revert firstly to the 2016 boundaries, and in the area that is being extended [citizens] are happy be included [where they will now receive representation],” Minister Dharamlall said.
The changes, the minister said, will maintain the number of NDCs which is 70, with no modification in terms of contesting boundaries and it is the opposite of the action of disenfranchisement undertaken by the previous administration.
“Again in 2018, the APNU+AFC divided one NDC into two in Essequibo. Now we are merging those NDCs back into one because of the population size, so that they can benefit again from investment through local government and this was done in consultation with the residents of the area” Dharamlall said.
Further, these changes will enable the government to provide even greater levels of support to every NDC.
“Every year since President Ali has taken office we have provided greater support to our Neighbourhood Democratic Councils as well as the municipalities, and we have done so through direct transfers to these local authorities’ areas and we have also done so through indirect support as well as greater investment,” Dharamlall related.
He highlighted that “for example, in Georgetown, the government is spending nearly $800 million to restore City Hall.”
The PPP/C Government continues to improve the entire road network across the country as well as the drainage network, including investments, upgrades, and repairs to all the outfall pumps and sluices through the Agriculture, Public Works, and Local Government ministries. (DPI)