Councillors of the Toevlugt/ Patentia Neighbourhood are longing for the holding of local government elections so that the decision-making process can be reverted to the local government level thereby giving neighbourhoods the freedom in carrying out their fiduciary duty to rate payers.
This view was expressed to Stabroek News by Chairman of the Toevlugt/Patentia Neighbourhood Council Roy Bennet on Tuesday. He cited as an example a decision by the Neighbourhood Council to put up a barrier across one of the new roads of its housing schemes. This, he said, was to the ire of some residents who petitioned the then local government minister, Harripersaud Nokta who subsequently ordered the council to remove the barrier without querying with the NDC, the reason for putting up the same.
As stipulated in the Laws of 28:01 under which the council operates, Chairman Bennet said, the NDC complied with the minister’s directive and removed the barrier.
A few days later, the unauthorised vehicles used and destroyed the roads and the same persons who had earlier protested to the local government minister now sought the neighbourhood’s support in replacing the barrier. This, Bennet said, the NDC refused to do.
He is of the view, that the intent of section 28:01 of the Municipal and District Council Act under which the local government elections was held was never to have a minister replace the local government commission’s decisions at the level of the NDC.
As it is, the local government minister, Bennet said, has sufficient responsibilities in managing some 65 NDC in addition to some 7 Town Councils.
Further, he decried a system that puts a minister in a difficult position of doing the work and making decisions that ought instead to be undertaken by a commission.
Another case in which Bennet cited unnecessary ministerial intrusion into the Toevlugt/Patentia NDC was that of a pump operator, who without the requisite permission, stayed away from work resulting in farms and house lots being flooded.
He noted that after the NDC made the decision to dismiss the delinquent operator, the local government minister at that time, sought the reinstatement of the operator and subsequently stated that the employment and dismissal of employees should only be done by the local government ministry. Despite the fact that in this particular case, the pump operator was not a permanent worker but a contractual employee. That directive, Bennet was of the opinion, was very improper.
Bennet is anticipating, that the holding of upcoming elections would allow the local governance system to revert to the past, in which decisions were made in one week, instead of the current four weeks.
Further, he pointed out that prior to the last local government elections, the councils were accustomed to the RDC undertaking the responsibility of decision making for the NDC. (Nills Campbell)