There will be four new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) in 2017, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan announced in his budget presentation on Monday.
Jordan explained that in an attempt to enable the citizens to have direct control over the development of their communities, Kuru Kururu and Yarrowkabra, in Region 4, Baracara, in Region 6, and Aranaputa, in Region 9, will all be designated NDCs.
This is in addition to the identification of capital towns for Regions 3, 4 and 5. Mahdia has already been identified as the capital town in Region 8.
“These capital towns will serve as the official seat of governance and the central hub for the provision of public services,” Jordan explained.
The minister did not state how much money has been allocated in total for local government initiatives. He did, however, note that $16 million has been allocated to the National Toshaos Council Secretariat in an effort to support self-governance within Indigenous communities. This sum is expected to enable the Council to more effectively carry out its mandate and better promote the interests of the country’s Indigenous peoples.
In addition, the government has, under the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), earmarked approximately $165 million for the advancing of the remaining identified areas for land titling. These lands will be in addition to the almost 1,000 square kilometres demarcated last year in regions 1, 7, and 8 and will ensure security of tenure and more effective long-term planning for land use, he said.
In an attempt to extend the revenue base of the local democratic organs (LDOs) and reduce their dependence on financial support from Central Government, Jordan said national valuation systems and capacities will be overhauled and modernised.
This is necessary, he said, since the valuation regime and financial system within which the organs operate are grossly inadequate, causing the LDOs to be heavily dependent on financial support from central government, thereby effectively compromising their autonomy.
The majority of the programmes under local government deal with the development of plans for the long term sustainable management of the local democratic organs. Jordan said the government has completed the updating of six plans of action for municipal development to guide the implementation of localised priority recommendations and actions for Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, Linden, Anna Regina, and Corriverton and expects to complete plans of action for regional development for regions Six and Nine in the coming year, having completed Region 10’s in 2016.
They represent the aim of building on efforts to promote an inclusive democracy, and are guided by the principles of strategic planning, he added.
Further, having recognised the need for improved communication within and among the tiers of government, as well as with other stakeholders, the government will implement, in 2017, a National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC). “The NRDCC will target representatives of all Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and serve as an annual forum where strategic planning and coordination can take place towards improved governance and accountability,” the minister explained.
He added that these initiatives will be complemented, through training in leadership, good governance, planning, community engagement, and other related areas so as to improve the management of selected local democratic organs.