Formula for fiscal transfers to local gov’t bodies agreed

A unanimous decision was reached on Friday by a parliamentary select committee on a formula for fiscal transfers to local government bodies, moving the country a step closer to long-awaited local government elections.

The Fiscal Transfers Bill was the last in a suite of four bills to be addressed by the parliamentary committee because of its nettlesome nature.

The chair of the committee, Basil Williams yesterday told Stabroek News that on Friday all members of the committee, with the exception of People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) MP Neil Kumar who asked to be excused, agreed to utilize a formula which is to determine how finances are dispensed from central government to Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and Municipalities. The formula covers all areas except for Georgetown which will be treated differently. The formula was presented by Vincent Alexander although several of its components, particularly the mathematical aspects were contributed by Navin Chanderpal.

Williams told Stabroek News that it is now left to the Parliamentary Counsel and the Attorney General’s Chambers to prepare a report on the committee’s work. He said that this process is expected to take about two weeks, after which the finished document will be examined by the Special Select Committee on June 28th.  Williams said that after this meeting, expected to be the committee’s last, the onus would then be on Local Government Minister Ganga Persaud to retable the bills in the National Assembly to begin the process on their way to becoming law.

The Special Select Committee was charged with the consideration of four bills deemed instrumental for local government reform and the holding of long-delayed local government elections: the Local Government Commission Bill, the Fiscal Transfers Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill.    The latter three bills were completed last month.

Williams said that once tabled he expects all members of the National Assembly to agree to the changes that were proposed at the level of the committee.

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