Lo­cal Govern­ment and You!

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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)

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