Local authorities will not be dictated to- President
President David Granger on Thursday morning said his administration has no desire to control local authorities and committed to ensure that local democracy functions independently.
“Local Democratic Councils under my watch will not be dominated or dictated to,” the President stated during his address to Regional Executive Officers, Mayors, Town Clerks and Councillors at the opening of the National Conference of Local Democratic Organs at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
“My administration does not desire to control local authorities. We’re here rather to cooperate and collaborate,” he added.
The Head of State pointed out that his Government has held two successful Local Government Elections since assuming office.
At both of those elections, the APNU+AFC administration did not do well in terms of the number of votes acquired but Granger said his administration did not hold those elections to win but to restore local democracy.
“We didn’t do this to win. We wish to provide better quality of life to the citizens of this country, better quality of life for the citizens of this country…win, lose or draw, we will continue to have local Government Elections in accordance with our constitution.”
Mr. Granger believes that the local government elections in 2016 and 2018 have set a precedent which is irreversible.
The two-day National Conference of Local Democratic Organs opened under the theme “Advancing National development through empowered and innovative local democratic Organs in a green economy.”
Opposition nominated councillors stayed away from the conference and the President in his address pointed out that it’s their representatives who suffer.
Also speaking at the conference was Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan who pointed out the achievements by the Government as it relates to local governance.
He said local governance is the closest form of governance to the people.
“It is at this basic level that citizens are afforded the opportunity to directly influence the conditions under which they live by participating in the management of their community,” Bulkan said.
According to him, that mass property appraisals conducted countrywide will be given to the Regional and Community leaders to be used to restructure their rates and taxes at the various location.
“This revaluation exercise will, in short, help to restore equity to rates proportionate to values of property but, moreover, immeasurably strengthen the revenue of councils and will enable informed decision-making. Councils will be able to defend the rates applied vis a vis the services to be provided,” he noted.
However, the Minister was quick to add that “fundamentally, it is not expected to result in burdensome rates to domestic property owners but the bottom line is that citizens expect efficient services which come at a cost.”
The Minister said revaluations have not been done for almost 25 years.
The project, he noted was completed via a contract valued $315 million and lasted for eighteen months.
Minister Bulkan challenged the local leaders to take ownership and help protect public property, improve working and living conditions, promote the social and cultural life of the people, raise the level of civic consciousness, preserve law and order, consolidate the rule of law and safeguard the rights of citizens.