Local Government and You!
May 2015, t he APNU/AFC Coalition’s strategy on Local Government issues has been orchestrated by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan.
The Minister’s tenure is strongly characterized by many failures, recognizable disappointing leadership given previous committals, and evidenced by many undercurrents of basic management principles. His diabolical, questionable, and objectionable position, in many ways, demand a total overhaul to arrest further deliberate and partisan attacks on many of our communities.
There have been many attempts to cover up his inefficient and sub-optimal delivery, which has negatively impacted ALL Local Government Areas (LAAs). He has made many ‘forked tongue’ pronouncements, which have not provided any indication of a positive future change. One could, therefore, anticipate much upcoming interesting readings, as a consequence of many writers’ justified and factual rejection of his onslaught on the nation.
It is a travesty that the Minister recently proudly announced that his Ministry had only spent 29% of its budgetary allocations at the end of July. This, by his own admission, highlights measures that only he and the coalition find acceptable in terms of addressing citizens’ welfare.
The situation is outright calamitous as several Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) are yet to receive their expected 2017 subventions. It is of significance that the budget referred to was approved since December of 2016, for 2017.
So what really are the issues?
More than two years into the Coalition’s control as government has passed. During this period, Bulkan has provided many clear reasons why he should not be the person at the helm of the Ministry. Under his management, some NDCs are begging for their annual subventions, while others have only received part.
The Minister is deliberately holding back the monies that were approved in the national budget for development in the communities. There is also little doubt as to the intent, which confirms a villainous effort to undermine and displace community leaders in LAAs where APNU/AFC does not control the Local Government organs.
The Minister i s also aware that the subventions are basically to assist in enhancing the Capital works in communities where roads and streets are punctured with pot-holes of expanding dimensions.
The impact on drainage cannot be understated as many trenches are becoming clogged up. There are numerous complaints that when the rain falls, citizens’ kitchen gardens are flooded and poultry and other valuables are destroyed. Several villages across the country desperately need help and the Ministry is deliberately preventing development in these areas.
The vindictive actions of APNU/AFC beast are frustrating our people!
Added to the aforementioned frustration regarding subventions, the LAAs are constrained by the Ministry of Communities withholding approvals for initiatives advanced to utilise funds for the procurement of essential machinery such as mini excavators and garbage trucks. There are some NDCs whose strategic plan target such approach as a medium to long term affordable complement, to reducing the seemingly permanent rental burden.
The Ministry is spitefully and deliberately delaying the approval letters to, basically, the LAAs that are controlled by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
We have also noticed an interesting intervention by the so-called Ministry of Social Cohesion, from where invitations to a special training seminar were recently dispatched to Councillors of NDCs. It would make an interesting forecast of the programme, which from the trend of things, seeks an alternative option of cleaning Bulkan’s mess.
It’s a conflicting situation because Bulkan on one hand treats Councillors of some NDCs as ‘scum’, whilst on the other, Government through ‘ Social Cohesion pretence’ is saying come let’s hold hands.
It has not gone unnoticed that that the Ministry of Social Cohesion operates as a political arm of the People’s National Congress. Starting points at a meaningful solution, therefore, is to frontally and inclusively ( without bias) engage the necessary remedies at the local government levels and within the ambit of the constitution.
Our people will not be encouraged to support the ‘brain-washing’ propaganda that is expected to come out of this seminar.
It is of note that millions of dollars are been spent by this Ministry to arrange seminars and workshops to give false hope to the people that the Coalition Government is working towards unity of the various ethnic groups. However, the victimisation and discrimination against one particular ethnic group tells a different story. Thus, invitees to these meetings are not inclined to attend. It is distressing to know that the political mouth piece of the PNC is calling our Councilors for training.
Another burning issue is that while the subject Ministry is spending millions of dollars to do training for a handful of persons, the Councilors are at a loss to know what the Cohesion Ministry will let them know about the Local Government system.
We know that recently, millions of dollars was invested by Bulkan to produce a booklet on Local Government and only a selected few are in possession of the hand book, which we understand, is not helpful in any way to the Councillors.
We understand that the two volume booklets was supposed to make concise the management and functions of the administrators of Local Organs and give guidelines as enshrined in Local Government Act, Chapter 28: 02 and t he Municipality and District Council Act, Chapter 28:01. However, the expectations of the printed scripts, when perused, was short lived because of the format that the booklets were designed.
The feedback suggests that councillors would find the readings far more complicated because every aspect of the contents were generalised, a more simplistic approach should have been presented for the understanding of not only the elected officials, but the residents and community leaders who also make up and contributes to the development of the LAAs.
The outlook of the booklets is eye catching and the paper used is of a very high quality. Obviously, it is expensive, but lacks the contents and substance that are required to give meaningful guidance for the Councillors to raise their standards and execute their mandate. Unfortunately, the booklets are from another APNU/AFC project that would not serve its intended purposes.
We need the establishment of the Local Government Commission and the fixing of GECOM now!!!
( This article was authored by Neil Kumar,Mr. S and Mr. A)