PPP-controlled regions snub regional conference
By Devina Samaroo
The organisation established last year by the Government to bring together regional administrations continues to experience a significant lack of participation from several local authorities.
During its second annual conference on Friday, President David Granger described the lack of participation as administrative sabotage, while the Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan warned that there will be repercussions for those who do not come onboard.
The National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC) was launched with the aim of bringing together local authorities to address critical issues facing the various regions.
Last year, during its inaugural conference, there was a stark absence of representatives from regions controlled by opposition-aligned members.
This year, the representation at the conference improved but concerns still lingered about the non-participation from certain regional officials.
News Room was reliably informed that the chairpersons of Regions 2, 3 and 6 were not present but they sent a representative without providing a reason for their absence.
According to Bulkan, only the chairperson of Region Five formally submitted an excuse for his absence.
During his remarks at the conference, he underscored the importance of the body and bemoaned the disinterest by the opposition.
“It is sad for me to acknowledge that the political opposition are either not listening or are uninterested in pursuing this model of governance for as recent of the 2018 budget debates, the Opposition Chief Whip Miss Gail Teixeira referred to this forum as sinister and one that usurps the power of RDCs. This is sad, and may I add, irresponsible,” Bulkan stated.
The Minister reminded that “I did forewarn out regional leaders that there will be repercussions from their non-participation from this scheduled activity”, adding that they can either “participate or be left out.”
An instance of such a repercussion occurred when the Minister had to consult with the local authority areas before nominating a person to sit on the Local Government Commission.
The Opposition claimed that no consultations were held with the local authority areas but the Minister explained that he consulted with this regional body but because of the lack of opposition participation, they were left out.
President David Granger, in his feature address, described the lack of participation as administrative sabotage.
“When regional chairmen refuse to attend important governmental functions like this, we can see where divisionism start…it is nothing less than administrative sabotage,” he expressed.
The Head of State explained that the creation of this body and the hosting of these forums are part and parcel of his vision to make each region independent.
Co-Chair of the body, Genevieve Allen, during an interview with the News Room, explained the importance of participating in the conference.
“As a body, us coming together to share our high-points, our experiences, it will help to promote development within regions and I am saying that because if one region may be at a low-point in one specific area, coming to a forum like this where we share among ourselves it will help you to strengthen where your weaknesses are,” Allen stated.
During this conference, representatives of the various towns, neighbourhood democratic councils and regional democratic councils exchange ideas, participate in discourse and build a spirit of collaboration which the government hopes will aid in strengthening local governance and democracy.