Today’s scheduled meeting of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will offer members of the coalition an opportunity to speak on several issues including who should be a part of the Local Government Commission (LGC).
General Secretary of APNU Joseph Harmon told Stabroek News on Thursday that the coalition will be consulting with its members so that they can compile a list of names to present for consideration by Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo
“We are heading in a direction which would see the names of the persons for the commission being ready for some discussion between the president and the leader of the opposition shortly. We will submit something after our meeting on Saturday,” he said.
Harmon also confirmed that he was in receipt of a report from Desmond Trotman of the Working People’s Alliance.
Trotman was the only person to show up to a meeting organized by the opposition to have nominees for the LGC identified through consultation with all parliamentary parties.
The APNU+AFC government has been accused of dragging its feet on the appointment of the LGC and creating hurdles like suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition has to consult with the governing party on his own nominees.
Following this assertion, the opposition PPP/C had invited all political parties represented in the 11th parliament to a meeting to discuss the nominees for LGC.
Chief Whip Gail Teixeira explained that she had written to the General Secretary of the APNU, Joseph Harmon and Chairman of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan asking that they be present for a meeting to be held during the first break of the June 15, 2017 sitting of the National Assembly.
This invitation followed a request from Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan that the leader of the opposition satisfy the regulatory requirement that he meet with all the parliamentary parties before submitting the names of nominees for the commission.
The requests were sent on May 23 and while no response was received from Harmon. Ramjattan responded saying that he would be unavailable for the entire month.
One week after Ramjattan’s statement, Leader of the AFC, Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News that the party expects action to be taken on establishing the commission “soon”
“The matter is being discussed at both party and cabinet levels as both coalition partners are equally concerned and expect some movement soon in having the commission in place,” he had said in response to a query from Stabroek News. There was no indication as to what time period constitutes soon.
According to the legislation, the LGC will be made up of eight members: three nominated by the president, one nominated by the minister after consultation with the 71 LGA, one nominated by unions operating in the local government sector and three nominated by the Leader of the Opposition after consultation with all parliamentary parties. The PPP/C has already named its nominees but has since extended consultations.
In April 2016, the Committee of Appointments named Andrew Christopher Garnett, of the Guyana Local Government Officers’ Union as the nominee from the trade unions. This nomination was approved by the House in August 2016.
However despite consistently promising to establish the commission Bulkan told Stabroek News in May 2017 that neither he nor President David Granger is ready to name their nominees.
The Minister who once stood on the protest line calling for the establishment of this commission has said that the local government system is functioning effectively in its absence.
“The pace of local government reform and relevance is not being hampered or stymied by the absence of this commission. It is proceeding apace. There are issues but the local government agenda is going forward,” Bulkan had told Stabroek News.
Before becoming Minister, Bulkan had been critical of then Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Norman Whittaker for not moving to operationalise the Commission. His party, APNU, had also called numerous times for the Commission to be established.
Further, one of the AFC’s key demands for its support of anti-money laundering legislation in 2014 was the signing of the commencement order for the Act to take effect.