Three of the five bills passed by the National Assembly last week will today be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers to receive their assent certificates, according to National Assembly Clerk Sherlock Isaacs, who says the remaining two are to follow soon.
All five bills—the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government Commission Bill, the Fiscal Transfers Bill and the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill—were passed at last week’s sitting, which was the last before the current parliamentary recess.
Speaking to Stabroek News last Thursday, Isaacs had said that he was hoping to have bills sent off to the Attorney General’s Chamber on the same day or by the following morning.
On Friday, however, he said that difficulties experienced in preparing them prevented them from being sent off. Isaacs, nevertheless, gave assurances that his office, in collaboration with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, was vigorously working on the local government bills, while the Office of the Prime Minister was lending its assistance to help in the preparation of the Hydro Electric Power (Amendment) Bill. Isaacs told Stabroek News yesterday that after much difficulties “the Hy
dro Electric Power Act, the Fiscal Transfers Act and the Municipal and District Councils Act, have all been completed.” He added that the National Printers has already produced the assent copies of the Acts, which are to be sent off to the AG’s chambers today to receive their assent certificates. Isaacs expressed hope that the Acts could be sent back to his office by this afternoon so they could then be sent to President Donald Ramotar for him to give his assent. These hopes, he said, are informed by the fact that the Attorney General’s Chambers were actively involved in the preparation of the documents and would have already given its advice on what needed to be done.
He admitted, though, that he was unaware of how long it would take for the Attorney General’s chambers to complete their consideration of the Acts.
In the case of the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, Isaacs shared that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel is giving the completed document contents “one last look over” before it is sent to the National Printers for the assent copy to be produced. Once this is done, he said, the remaining processes will be executed.
The Clerk also disclosed that the Local Government Commission Bill has been sent off to the National Printers for the assent copy to be produced. Once this is done, Isaac explained, the document would then be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers to receive its assent certificate, after which it will be sent off to the president for him to give his signature.
The enactment of the local government bills will finally set the stage for local government elections to be held.
GECOM spokesperson Vishnu Persaud has indicated that the local government elections can be held after just six months of preparations, although he explained that a review of existing considerations can see the elections being held sooner.
He explained though, that the first pre-requisite for setting the preparatory procedures in motion is an indication from the Minister of Local Government. Minister Ganga Persaud, however, is unable to take this step unless the president assents to the four bills.