Can the selected commissioners stand up to the requirements of the Local Government Commission Act?

Dear Editor,

I must apologise to readers about my earlier misrepresentation concerning the Local government Com-mission, by referring to outdated legislation contained in the Municipal & District Councils Act Cap. 28:01.

Instead the correct reference should have been Local Government Commission Act 2013, the main provisions of which differ substantially from the earlier iteration.

First of all it is noted that the membership of this body corporate ‘shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority’.

Happily, its eight members will be more democratically appointed, as follows:

a) Three members by the President in accordance with his own deliberate judgement;

b) Three members by the President, on the Advice of the Leader of the Opposition after consultation with other Parliamentary parties;

c) One member – after approved by the National Assembly upon nomination by the:

□ The Parliamentary Standing Committee Appointments from persons submitted by Trade Unions within the Local Government System (Is there one?)

□  One Member – appointed by the Minister after consultation with Local Democratic Organs

But to compound the selection process Section 4(2) of the Act insists that:

“All appointments shall be made from among persons of unquestioned integrity and with extensive knowledge, where predictable, in local government matters, administration, finance, Amerindian Affairs, industry or law.”

However, these eligibility capabilities become more challenging when the functions of the Commission are examined they are as shown in the following provisions of the Act.

 

Functions of Commission.

  1. 13. (1) The Commission shall have power to deal with all matters

relating to the regulation and staffing of local government organs including employment and dismissal of staff and with dispute resolution within and between local government organs, and in particular shall –

(a) monitor and review the performance and implementation of policies of all local government organs, including policies of taxation and protection of the environment;

(b) monitor, evaluate and make recommendations on policies, procedures and practices of all local government organs in order to promote effective local governance;

 (c) investigate any matter under its purview and propose remedial action to the Minister, whenever or wherever necessary;

(d) monitor and review all existing and proposed legislation, and or policies and measures relating to local government organs and make recommendations for any legislation or any amendments’ to any legislation and or policy to the Minister;

(e) examine and propose ways of enhancing the capacity of local government organs.

 (2) The Commission shall deal with all matters relating to staffing of local governmert organs and in particular shall –

(a) be responsible for employment, transfer, discipline and dismissal of staff; and

 (b) approve of remuneration, superannuation, training, leave and promotion of staff.

(3) The Commission shall hear appeals instituted by employees who have been dismissed by any local government organ.

(4) The Commission shall hear and determine all matters concerning disputes arising within a local government organ or between any two local government

organs.

(5) In the discharge of its functions the Commission shall have regard to the provisions of the Municipal and District Councils Act, the Local Government Act,

the Local Democratic Organs Act, the Amerindian Act, and any other provisions bearing on matters of local government.

A serious review of the expected talent and experience required of respective members leaves one to begin the selection process by asking for volunteers.

Instead the appointments announced are politically influenced selections of extremely doubtful baggage of experience, mostly unrelated to the range of the specialisation criteria required. Legal specialist advice is sorely required amongst this milieu.

The only reason this massive faux pas could have gone unnoticed is, that unlike the recent GECOM appointment, the two parties are at one with a construct of remarkably constipated experiences.

Meanwhile, in recognising the magnitude of the responsibilities, as well as the quality of decision-making required of the Commission, the latter is allowed to seek support in that it ‘may delegate, in written form, to any local government organ, authority to perform duties and discharge functions on its behalf as it may determine’.

What a compromising (if not conflicting) structure of accountability relationships? What happens if and when the delegated duties and functions are poorly/wrongly implemented?

Please advise on this and other inherent conundrums. More critically advise on whether the selectees can stand up to the requirements of the Act.

Yours faithfully

E.B. John

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