In any society, following the rule of law is always the optimal course of action to take. However, this concept seems alien to Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan when it comes to the establishment of the Local Government Commission. Article 78A of our Constitution makes provision for the coming into being of such a Commission, something the Minister in 2017 appears very resistant to. If you observe his public utterances in 2012, it is clear as day and night that he was singing a different tune then.
In 2012, as the then opposition spokesperson for local government, Mr Bulkan argued for the local democratic organs to “breathe freely and that the oversight… should not be suffocating and subject only to ministerial control”. But today as Minister, he is solely responsible for this lack of freedom and more so these grave acts of suffocation in the local government system. What do you call someone like this? In the dictionary they may be defined as a hypocrite, but in Guyanese parlance they will be referred to as speaking from both sides of their mouth.
It was Bulkan in Parliament in 2012 who said: “These local democratic organs must be empowered, as is required by our Constitution”.
But today he has the power to empower them but has utilized every opportunity at his disposal to frustrate the establishment of the Local Government Commission. Isn’t this what his boss is doing on the Gecom Chairman issue?
Quite duplicitously, Bulkan declared in Parliament in 2012 that the establishment of the Local Government Commission is “… in the best interest of the respective communities, not of some political party; it is all about local democracy.” But five years later, he has singularly kicked those ambitions to the curb and today it is all about his PNC party and not about local democracy any more. The people will surely remember this grave betrayal from the PNC in 2020.
Finally, I must commend the Granger administration for holding local government elections in 2016; this was a seismic deliverable that has to be acknowledged. But since those elections, as a nation we have gone backward on local democracy. Firstly, the Minister interfered in the process of the elections of the Mayor of Mabaruma, and secondly the Minister has denied the nation a Local Government Commission. Enough of this charade from Minister Bulkan.
I am, therefore, calling on the Minister to free himself of this great imposition where he pretends to be the Local Government Commission, because under the Constitution he is not. Democracy is a medicine with much pain, but on any day it is better than centralized autocracy as is being practised by this regime in relation to the local government system. When everyone thought the 2016 elections would have brought new life to the local government system, owing to the interference from Bulkan’s ministry, much inefficiency has been imported into the delivery of public service at the local level. Using the Minister’s words from 2012 “for the old and the young…” he should do the right thing and establish the Local Government Commission.