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 CITY HALL (TOWN HALL) GEORGETOWN

LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO FOSTER DEMOCRACY

Local government is a partner of central government. It is not an adversary or even subordinate. Its role and authority is defined and protected by the Constitution of Guyana.  A Partnership for National Unity pledged in a statement of November 2013, titled ‘Renewal of Real Local Democracy’, to protect democratic institutions, to provide increased funding for local government organs and to partner with these organs to improve conditions in towns and villages.  APNU commits itself to a covenant with citizens to engage everyone in every aspect of community development.  APNU calls on all Guyanese to join us in standing up and confronting the arrogant PPP/C administration.

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT Mandated by Guyana’s Constitution

Article 71 (1)

Local government is a vital aspect of democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live.

Article 71 (2)

For this purpose Parliament shall provide for the institution of a country-wide system of local government through the establishment of organs of local democratic power as an integral part of the political organisation of the State.

Article 74 (1)

It shall be the primary duty of local democratic organs to ensure in accordance with law the efficient management and development of their areas and to provide leadership by example.

Article 74 (2)

Local democratic organs shall organise popular co-operation in respect of the political, economic, cultural and social life of their areas and shall co-operate with the social organisations of the working people.

Article 74 (3)

It shall be the duty of local democratic organs to maintain and protect public property, improve working and living conditions, promote the social and cultural life of the people, raise the level of civic consciousness, preserve law and order, consolidate the rule of law and safeguard the rights of citizens.

Article 75

Parliament shall provide that local democratic organs shall be autonomous and take decisions which are binding upon their agencies and institutions, and upon the communities and citizens of their areas.

 

STRUCTURE OF GUYANA’S LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Regional Democratic Councils (one for each of the 10 regions). Elections for these councils take place simultaneously with general elections aka General and Regional Elections.

Municipalities/Towns – A total of 6: Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, Corriverton and Anna Regina.  Representatives are Constitutionally required to be elected every 3 years by Local Government Elections.  The  number of elected counselors vary by municipality/town.

Neighbourhoods or Neighbourhood Democratic Councils –A total of 65.  Councils are Constitutionally required to be elected every 3 years by Local Government Elections

 

DUTIES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Local Government is a vital level of public administration because it deals with people’s daily lives, in their communities.  Citizens from local communities depend on their locally elected representatives to ensure towns, municipalities and villages are effectively managed to ensure clean environments, street lights, maintenance of roads, streets, drainage canals and playgrounds.  These attributes will contribute to a Good Life for residents.

 

CURRENT STATUS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN GUYANA

Guyanese citizens have been waiting for seventeen years to elect new councilors to six municipalities and sixty-five neighbourhood democratic councils. Elections are important because they are a democratic and  constitutional right. Most councils that were democratically elected in 1994 have been replaced by government-appointed members and have become dysfunctional by 2014. The PPPC administration has shown little interest in empowering the people to enable them to exercise greater control over their daily lives. The PPP/C is more concerned with concentrating power in the hands of its appointed Ministers of Local Government and Regional Development. They have undermined democratically-elected local councils and underdeveloped communities by impeding the provision of public services to residents. The neighborhood and municipal councils ― starved of funding ― have been unable to meet their statutory needs thereby making them ineffectual. This has led to a near-total breakdown in local governance.

 

CURRENT STATUS OF COMMUNITIES IN GUYANA

The deplorable conditions in Georgetown is replicated throughout Guyana due to the disembowelment of local leadership and replacement with PPP/C central government representatives.  Local problems are evident: broken bridges; clogged canals, culverts, drains, gutters and trenches; flooding; overgrown cemeteries, playfields and parapets; potholed roads; stray dogs and roaming cattle; lack of adequate street lighting; lack of public spaces for entertainment, leisure, sport and recreation; lack of efficient solid waste disposal and lack of enforcement of building and zoning codes – combine to make many neighbourhoods unsanitary, unpleasant and unsafe.

 

HOW THE PPP/C DESTROYED LOCAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS GUYANA

The PPPC administration has shown little interest in empowering the people to enable them to exercise greater control over their daily lives. The PPPC is more concerned with concentrating power in the hands of its appointed Ministers of Local Government and Regional Development. They have undermined democratically-elected local councils and underdeveloped communities by impeding the provision of public services to residents. The neighbourhood and municipal councils ― starved of funding ― have been unable to meet their statutory needs thereby making them ineffectual. This has led to a near-total breakdown in local governance.

At the heart of the urban and rural development crisis is the question of who wields power in the municipal and neighbourhood councils. There must be change at the local level if Guyana is to become a more equal and inclusive society and a less unbalanced and undemocratic state. The People’s Progressive Party Civic – PPP/C – administration, for over two decades, has demonstrated its reluctance to introduce the type of root-and-branch local government reforms that could lead to greater inclusionary democracy.  PPP/C ministers of Local Government and Regional Development during the past decade have set out to deliberately demolish numerous local democratic councils, although not without resistance. Residents are resentful of the PPPC’s undemocratic tactics. The PPPC is satisfied with the ‘old’ system under which its ministers have been able to remove elected councils and impose hand-picked placemen. This is the reason for the collapse of councils in municipalities and neighbourhoods. The independence and integrity of democratically-elected local councils have been undermined in order to maintain complete central control of the councils.

 

APNU URGES THE PPP/C TO CALL LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

APNU, in a caucus with the Alliance for Change passed a bill in the National Assembly to pave the way for speedy Local Government Elections:

 

The Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill, at its second reading on 10th February 2014, was debated and passed ‘as amended,’ directing that elections be held by 1st August 2014. There was a reasonable expectation that, at last, local government elections would be held in 2014.  The PPP/C, however, made it clear that it had no intention of either obeying the mandate of the National Assembly or complying with the precepts of the Constitution.

 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, GREAT BRITAIN, CANADA & THE EUROPEAN UNION SUPPORT IMMEDIATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS IN GUYANA

Ambassadors and High Commissioners representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union issued a joint statement in November 2013: “Given the important and pressing need for effective local governance, we believe that 2013 should be a watershed moment for the people of Guyana – the year they can once again democratically elect their local government…the institutions and practice of local governance have withered on the vine.”  They added: “…the legislative foundation is in place for elections by August 1.  The election machinery is ready.  The political parties have reaffirmed their desire to hold local elections and are making campaign preparations.  It is therefore our hope ― as the PPP/C, APNU, and AFC pledged in their 2011 election manifestos ― that local government elections will be held, “bringing much needed reinvigoration into local government entities.”  That is something all parties and civic stakeholders should agree on in 2014.”.

 

THE PPP/C DENIES DEMOCRACY TO GUYANESE

 The President had made what many thought was a solemn promise in his party’s election Manifesto – Working Together for a Better Tomorrow. He wrote: “In the area of local government and governance, the next PPPC government will ensure, within one year of the 2011 general and regional elections, that local government elections are held, bringing much needed reinvigoration into local government entities.” Nearly three years have passed since those elections in 2011 were held and Ramotar became president. He has failed to keep his promise on local government election.

 

APNU IS RELENTLESSLY FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY IN GUYANA

Letter to President Donald Ramotar on Local Government Elections_2014-09...Office of the President 2Office of the President 3