The PPP has destroyed local participation and decision-making
Your correspondent (‘What happened to the funds approved in 2013 for the repair of the GT-Lethem road?’ SN, August 6) deserves the public`s appreciation for the issue he/she raised. Laying aside the dig taken at the opposition, as a member of the said opposition I wish to offer a view and one that varies from the one posed. In my opinion what is needed is not “answers from the relevant authorities” but rather for the government to honour and respect our laws, citizens’ rights and the constitution. More specifically the government needs to ensure that constitutional provisions relating to local democracy are implemented. Were this to happen then the regional governments (Regional Democratic Councils) would be involved and meaningfully engaged as to when, how, who (which contractor), how much to be spent, etc. In such a situation the question posed by your correspondent would likely not arise. Transparency, accountability and the disinfectant of sunlight would have seen to this. We are speaking here of the single and vital road link from the coast to Region 9. In this case the decision-making would have involved the RDCs of Regions 8, 9 & 10. None of this is happening. The RDCs are all being ignored, sidelined and marginalized. Central government has virtually hijacked all these councils, using the Regional Executive Officers (REOs).
Guyana is too large to be effectively or efficiently managed from the centre. Our constitution recognizes this and provides for an elaborate system of decentralized decision-making and devolution of authority, none of which is being respected by PPP/C administration. What we have instead is that all decisions are made by ministers in Georgetown. It is lawless rule. It results in chaos countrywide. One example: in your August 5, 2014 issue in an article titled ‘Kamarang consulted by Minister on hinterland education’ you report on a visit by Education Minister Manickchand and a team to the Region 7 community of Kamarang. Was the RDC engaged regarding this visit or was any RDC councillor part of this team? The answer is no. The REO was part of it though. I repeat: the regional government was sidelined. By the way, the enlightened definition of being consulted is for the group, community, etc, ostensibly consulted to say ‘we have been consulted,’ not for a high-powered team to parachute into a community, deliver a message, leave as quickly and call it consultation. Does this activity pass this test? The people of Kamarang should be asked.
Meaningful local democracy can solve many existing problems. The PPP have shown, however, that they are uninterested in local democracy. They have destroyed local participation and local decision-making.
Local democracy will only come to Guyana when the PPP is gotten rid of and replaced with an administration that is committed to ensuring that constitutional provisions relating to same are respected and implemented. A David Granger led APNU administration will see to this. In our column of July 24 titled ‘Ireng-Sawariwau neighbourhood yearns for local democracy’ we committed ourselves to such a covenant. In Mao`s reformist language, it is time for a thousand flowers to bloom.
Ronald Bulkan, MP