No date set for Select Committee meeting on local government bills

No date has yet been set for the first meeting of the parliamentary Special Select Committee that will consider the four bills expected to pave the way for the holding of long overdue local government polls.

APNU parliamentarian, Basil Williams who chairs the committee refused to discuss the matter when contacted by Stabroek News yesterday.

He complained that he had spoken about the issue in the National Assembly and none of what he said was reported.
He sought to find out who reports on the National Assembly then said that the reporter who covers parliament should call him about local government reform and abruptly terminated the call.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Ganga Persaud, several days ago had said that Williams was yet to call a meeting. “The bills are at the level of the select committee and we are awaiting his [Williams’] call to convene the first committee meeting,” he had said.

When contacted yesterday, AFC committee member Dr Veerasammy Ramayya said he had not received any notification for an upcoming meeting of the committee and suggested that Williams might notify them at the next sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday.

Williams in a letter published in the Stabroek News had said that upon the resumption of the National Assembly, he would call the first meeting of the committee. The National Assembly has since resumed meeting.

The four bills that are to be examined by the committee are the Local Government Commission Bill and the Local Government (Amendment Bill); the Fiscal Transfers Bill and the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill.

The government and opposition parties had previously agreed on the enactment of reforms prior to the holding of local government elections, which have been due since 1997.

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