More than two years after entering office, the APNU+AFC government yesterday finally named its three nominees for the long delayed Local Government Commission (LGC).
“The appointment of the eight members to serve on the Local Government Commission will now allow the process of its establishment to be completed,” Minister of State Joseph Harmon told a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday.
The nominees are Mortimer Mingo, Clement Corlette, Marlon Williams, Joan-Ann Romascindo, Carol Sooba, Norman Whittaker, Clinton Collymore and Andrew Garnett.
Under the law, the LGC is to be made up of eight members: three nominated by the president, one nominated by the minister, after consultations with local democratic organs, 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.
Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan told Stabroek News that President David Granger nominated Corlette, Mingo and Romascindo, while the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic nominated Whittaker, Sooba and Collymore. Bulkan, who had promised the establishment of the LGC over a year ago, said that his nominee was Williams, the AFC General Secretary.
In April, 2016, the Committee of Appointments had named 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. The PPP/C had named its nominees in July, 2016.
Bulkan said that he looks forward to the commission “being constituted and for it to be operationalised.”
Up to May, Bulkan had said that neither he nor the President was ready to name their nominees for the LGC and he maintained that in its absence the local government system was functioning effectively.
“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,” he had told Stabroek News.
The bill to enable the commission was passed in the National Assembly in August, 2013, and in November that year received presidential assent. In April 2014, the then opposition APNU had urged the then PPP/C administration to respect the Constitution by establishing the commission without further delay. The AFC had also separately demanded movement on the establishment of the body.
But since winning the May 11, 2015 elections, the APNU+AFC government did not move readily to establish the body and continued to delay in identifying its nominees.
It is for this reason that it faced public criticism, with even the Working People’s Alliance, which is a part of APNU, denouncing the delay and urging that the commission be set up forthwith.
The commission is provided for in Article 78 (a) of the Constitution, which says “Parliament shall establish a Local Government Commission, the composition and rules of which empower the commission to deal with as it deems fit, all matters related to the regulation and staffing of local government organs and with dispute resolution within and between local government organs.”
Many hiring and firing decisions are currently being handled at the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Communities instead of the LGC.
Under the law, it will not only oversee municipalities and Neighbour-hood Democratic Councils but also Regional Demo-cratic Councils as well as Amerindian Village Councils.