President swears in Local Gov’t Commission
President Irfaan Ali on Monday administered the Oath of Office to eight persons who will serve for the next three years on the Local Government Commission.
In doing so, he retained two former Ministers of Local Government and Regional Development – Clinton Collymore and Norman Whittaker; he also retained former Town Clerk for the City of Georgetown, Carol Sooba. They all served as the People’s Progressive Party nominees on the previous Commission.
The Local Government Commission deals with all matters relating to the staffing of local government organs. It is responsible for employment, transfer, discipline and dismissal of staff and approval of remuneration, superannuation, training, leave and promotion of staff.
In ensuring that the Commission was fully constituted according to law, Dr. Ali also administered the Oath of Office to three candidates nominated by the APNU+AFC Coalition: former Region 4 Chairman Clement Corlette; Joan-Ann Romascindo and Nicola Denise Trotman.
This process went through, even as Dr. Ali said Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon continues to refuse to acknowledge him as the legitimate President of Guyana and the People’s Progressive Party as the legitimate government.
With the Local Government Commission Act mandating that the President and Opposition Leader consult on the appointment of members of the Local Government Commission, Dr. Ali explained that in this instance the Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, had written to the opposition for their names.
Those names were submitted less than 48 hrs ago with no direct consultation between the President and Opposition leader.
Asked if he felt it was an indication that Harmon now recognizes his government, the President said he merely did what he was mandated to do in accordance with the Constitution.
“… and that is how I will operate and that is how we will proceed. Mr. Harmon has consistently repeated the same narrative on his feelings of the government so that hasn’t changed in any way or form,” he added.
The President insisted, however, that there must be an acknowledgement from Harmon as Opposition Leader that “he is dealing with someone he respects and acknowledges as the government.”
“Mr. Harmon needs to get off this narrative that he comforted himself with for far too long, face the reality and act in a manner that is befitting the citizen of Guyana and put Guyana and the interest of Guyanese first,” he added.
The other members of the Commission are Trade Unionist, Carvil Duncan who was nominated by a Parliamentary Committee and former Regional Chairman, Julius Faber, who was nominated by the Minister of Local government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall.
The Chair and Deputy Chair will be elected by and from the members of the Commission. This will likely be done at the first meeting of the eight-member commission.
In his charge to the members, Dr. Ali said Guyana’s economic development will result in high levels of economic and social transformation at all levels which will in turn, demand that local government bodies play a critical part to ensure the transformation is effective and efficient.
He said although simple, the ceremony also brings with it an important manifestation of government interest to addressing employment, transfer and dismissal of persons across all local government entities.
The Local Government Commission is also empowered to hear appeals instituted by employees who have been dismissed by local government organs and hear and determine disputes arising within a local government area or between any two local government organs.
The Commission is empowered to monitor and review the performance and implementation of policies of all local government organs, investigate any matter under its purview and propose remedial action to the minister, monitor and review all existing and proposed legislation, and or policies and measures relating to local government organs.