Com­ing from Queens (N.Y., N.Y.) to vote? -Health is­sues: The Chair­man’s longevity

Stabroek News - - STARBROEK NEWS -

I agree with Miss Mosa about (tra­di­tional) voter ap­a­thy rel­e­vant to Lo­cal Com­mu­nity Elec­tions. An ad­di­tional rea­son to those usu­ally ad­vanced is sim­ply the per­cep­tion – and re­al­ity – that both the gov­ern­ing party and its op­po­si­tion coun­ter­part find ways to con­tinue con­trol of even in­de­pen­dent per­sons or groups elected to man­age lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. How? Why?

The cen­tral Ge­orge­town-based Min­istries of Com­mu­ni­ties and Fi­nance are piv­otal to how much “in­de­pen­dence” or au­ton­omy lo­cal com­mu­nity au­thor­i­ties are al­lowed. The Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gions sub­mit their (neigh­bour­hoods’) bud­gets to the Com­mu­ni­ties Min­is­ter. He then has to “rea­son” with his pow­er­ful coun­ter­part, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Hon. Win­ston “Goodlife” Jor­dan. The an­nual na­tional bud­get has the last word and de­ci­sion gov­ern­ing how much fund­ing goes to­wards the Re­gions’ and Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ cap­i­tal projects.

Right there the fi­nan­cial “in­de­pen­dence” of the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tors and man­agers is sort of com­pro­mised. Com­mu­nity rates and taxes would never suf­fice. There should be per­ma­nent lo­cal fund-rais­ing ven­tures.

There are also other per­mis­sions and ap­provals which Ge­orge­town holds over the Re­gional and Neigh­bour­hood “gov­ern­ments.”

Imag­ine this sce­nario: I win elec­tion as the res­i­dents’ choice – as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date for a spe­cific con­stituency on Mon­day. Two months later, I mo­bilise re­sources to es­tab­lish a large pri­vate mod­ernistic park­ing fa­cil­ity at an ap­pro­pri­ate site in the con­stituency. As de­vel­oper and man­ager I will then have to sat­isfy nu­mer­ous “au­thor­i­ties” out­side of the con­stituency in terms of cer­tain “con­di­tions”, stan­dards, safety, le­gal­i­ties, etc. nec­es­sary, but cer­tainly not com­plete in­de­pen­dent man­age­ment or gov­er­nance!

Why cen­tral gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion in lo­cal gov­ern­ment? There are ac­tu­ally a few good valid rea­sons. Frankly Speak­ing, I was in sync with those com­men­ta­tors who cau­tioned – be­fore the his­toric 2016 lo­cal elec­tions – that qual­i­fied, ex­pe­ri­enced ad­min­is­tra­tors and man­agers were in woe­fully short sup­ply through­out the coun­try’s lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. (Thanks in part to wil­ful ne­glect by the PPP/C Ad­min­is­tra­tions.) Re­sult is what we hear and see weekly – dirt poor man­age­ment and ac­count­abil­ity af­ter can­di­dates are elected and of­fi­cials ap­pointed.

Of course – and un­for­tu­nately- gov­ern­ment is also mind­ful of the can­cer­ous mal­ady which also eats away at lo­cal gov­ern­ment un­der­tak­ings.

A wise, in­dif­fer­ent and non-con­fi­dent elec­torate there­fore is never en­thused to go vote even when gen­uine com­mu­nity-based can­di­dates prom­ise very lo­cal im­prove­ments. And Frankly Speak­ing, when the usual party ri­valry sur­faces, “nor­mal” folks shun lo­cal polls also.

************** “Over­seas votes?” Ho-ho!

Okay friends, my lead cap­tion about New York­ers – Guyanese from Rich­mond Hill – Lit­tle Ber­bice – Queens – re­turn­ing to vote in lo­cal elec­tions on Mon­day, was meant to be an at­ten­tion-grab­ber.

I guess only the most die-hard fi­nan­cially–com­fort­able over­seas sup­port­ers will jour­ney back home to sup­port any party by ac­tu­ally vot­ing. What re­ally is it worth for your party to win when you’re well-domi­ciled legally else­where? (There can be long-term ben­e­fits but that’s for an­other time.)

But you must keep over­seas vot­ing for an­other de­bate. Some de­vel­oped coun­tries still al­low it. And there must be Guyanese over­seas res­i­dents whose names are still law­fully on lo­cal elec­toral rolls. They are still el­i­gi­ble to vote! Di­as­pora com­rades still con­trib­ute heav­ily to their re­spec­tive par­ties. Do you know how many PNC com­rades trekked home to do strate­gic grass­roots work for His Ex­cel­lency’s party early in 2015? Dis­cuss…

********** Fit, healthy lead­ers nec­es­sary

Elec­tors and all tax­pay­ers should eas­ily agree that the trea­sury’s funds should not be ex­pended on fancy den­tal work and “van­ity med­i­cal pro­ce­dures” for gov­ern­ment min­is­ters as was done dur­ing pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions.

The APNU+AFC out­fit claims it dis­con­tin­ued such ob­scen­ity af­ter en­ter­ing of­fice. In­stead it is as­sist­ing with med­i­cal in­sur­ance poli­cies for cab­i­net min­is­ters. Well done.

We elect politi­cians who can be­come Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and min­is­ters. To serve us well they need to stay healthy. Just as the Min­is­ter of Health has to su­per­in­tend all of us be­ing healthy by as­sist­ing with pre­ven­tion and treat­ment of our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive med­i­cal al­i­ments.

I would in­vite our spry young jour­nal­ists to do pieces on Guyanese life-ex­pectancy rates, as well as to ad­vise poor folks how to get the best nu­tri­tion from af­ford­able foods.

In­ci­den­tally, do you re­alise that His Ex­cel­lency’s GECOM Chair­man has out­lived five (5) of his prom­i­nent coun­ter­parts? Who? Well Jus­tice Ru­dolph Harper, Dood­nauth Singh, Ed­ward Hop­kin­son, Ran­dolph Kir­ton and Charles Liburd were names sub­mit­ted by Des­mond Hoyte to Pres­i­dent Cheddi for con­sid­er­a­tion as GECOM chair­man be­fore the 1997 elec­tions. The sixth name on the list was Jus­tice Pat­ter­son, His Ex­cel­lency’s eighty­plus cur­rent chair­man. All the other five have passed on! Who says His Ex­cel­lency’s Chair­man is not fit? (If re­ally not proper?) Con­grats to the Chair­man!

1. Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment/Man­age­ment in Re­gion 6? When one reads of the bu­reau­cratic sloth and mis­man­age­ment caus­ing a near col­lapse in Pub­lic Health Care in Ber­bice at this time in 2018, you un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of so-called lo­cal gov­ern­ment. Nine­teen doc­tors are also on leave.

2. So did your com­rades ed­u­cate you about just how to vote on Mon­day? PR and first-past-the post vot­ing on the one bal­lot pa­per? Who is the in­di­vid­ual can­di­date for your con­stituency/area? Ever saw him/her be­fore?

3. When Devi, De­vanand and David can’t ac­cess poor peo­ple’s health ser­vices in Ber­bice, they’ll never re­turn when they land in Queens, NY, NY.

4. Never thought I’ll be sat­u­rated – re­ally fed up read­ing about mur­ders in Guyana and Trinidad. How cheap, re­ally worth­less has life be­come to the en­raged? The ig­no­rant?

5. Wel­come back to the Pres­i­dent this week­end. ’Til next week! (al­lanafenty@yahoo.com)

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