Politicians should not be appointed to the Local Government Commission

Dear Editor,

The appointing of members to the Local Government Commission under the present construction of the law will open a new political battleground for the PPP/C and the government. The Local Government Com-mission Act No18 of 2013 in my opinion is inconsistent with Article 78A of the Constitution of Guyana.

Article 78A states: “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.”

No part of Article 78A, gives the power to the President and the Oppo-sition Leader to appoint members of the commission. The Tenth Parlia-ment had given up its authority to establish the commission, by giving the President and Opposition Leader the power to appoint. The Act remov-ed the power of the Parliament to establish the Local Government Commission and put in the hands of the President and the Opposition leader the power to appoint 6 out of the 8 member commission; this removes MPs from having any say in the establishment of the commission.

The commission, when it is fully appointed, will create the new political battleground. With the appointment of politicians on the commission, it has already started, although the commission is not in place as yet.

The PPP/C is already nominating politicians to sit on the commission. If the framer of the Constitution had wanted the President and Opposition Leader to hold such authority, they would have stated such in the Constitution, as it is stated in other articles.

In my opinion the Local Govern-ment Commission should consist of non-political members.

While paragraph 2 of section 3 of the Local Government Commission Act, stated, “In the exercise of its functions, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority”, we all know the reality, ie, when politicians are on the commission it will be a different ball game, the game of political power for political space.

I think the law should be rewritten in a way so that Parliament should advertise for commissioners, and qualified persons should be approved by Parliament. The President would then sign.

The appointment of politicians as commissioners could create stagnation for the local government authorities, because the commission is the body to discipline staff, so they can focus on the development of their local government authority area; internal fighting by politicians will create problems.

The old political culture is like a plague continuing to destroy our local government systems.

All the governments in the past failed to truly amend the Constitu-tion, and they also lacked the understanding, of State Paper 4 of 1980, that gave us guidance on how to strengthen the local government system. Our present government must not make the same mistake.

If the local government system continues to fail, the regions will fail, and we will continue to have less job creation, because it will be difficult for central government to manage all aspects of development in Guyana.

All aspects of people’s development must come first, whether you are the government or in opposition.

As an MP, I can’t support the appointment of politicians on the commission.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Carrington, MP

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