The Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) last evening added its voice to the call for the holding of Local Government Elec-tions as early as possible.
The government has come under enormous pressure in recent months to hold local government elections but has made a series of excuses as to why this is not possible.
In a statement, TIGI noted that the last such elections took place in 1994 although the law requires them to be held every three years. Further, it said that Article 12 of the constitution states that local government by freely elected representatives is an integral part of the democratic organization of the State.
“The failure to hold local government elections is a denial of the democratic rights of the people of Guyana to choose who amongst them should manage the affairs of their communities. Ironically, this is the most devastating charge that the present Administration consistently and constantly (levelled) against the previous Administration in relation to the latter’s 28 years in power”, TIGI said.
The poor state of the capital, TIGI said, is testimony to the devastating effects of not having in place a system where citizens can periodically review the performance of elected officials by voting. TIGI said that the same can be said of several other local government organs.
“Indeed, one consequence of not having local government elections for 17 years is the weakening of Neighbourhood Demo-cratic Councils, and in particular their decreased financial accountability, as revealed in successive reports of the Auditor General.
The inevitable lack of financial oversight increases the likelihood of inefficient and corrupt spending. In addition, the failure to hold local government elections is contrary to the Rule of Law and good governance”, TIGI declared.
TIGI noted with regret that the National Assembly had passed a Bill in February of this year for those elections to be held not later than 1 August 2014 but the Bill is yet to be assented.
TIGI said it also took note of the statement from the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Com-mission confirming the Commission’s readiness for elections once the Minister of Local Government issues the relevant directive. TIGI urged the Minister to do so without further delay.
TIGI said it is also of the firm view that the time is long past for appropriate changes to be made to the composition of the Guyana Elections Commission so that it comprises members who are independent of the electoral process.