Stabroek News
May 24, 2001

The fifteen PPP/C Councillors of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region 4 have strongly criticised the installation of PNC/R members as chairpersons of all ten of the sub-committees of the council, the chairmanship of a new committee for information and research being allocated to the single councillor representing the Justice for All Party. The councillors said in a press release that while the PNC/R calls for inclusiveness at the level of central government it does not practice what it preaches in the Regions it controls. They said the same total domination of the RDC and its sub-committees was practised in the previous council and the result was widespread neglect and poor management of the region, including the east coast communities that the PNC/R has recently claimed more marginalised. They said development in these areas had only been carried out by central government.

The Chairman of the Council, Mr Alan Munroe, said in response that the best persons available at the sitting of the council had been chosen for the job. But all fifteen PPP/C councillors were reportedly present (the PNC/R have l8) and it is surprising that not one competent person could be found among them, including as they do businessmen, university graduates and an experienced administrator. Moreover, given the claim that the previous chairpersons had performed very poorly and that some were reappointed it is hard to believe that they were the best available.

In any event, it is surely desirable in principle that given the kind of co-operation now being shown at the national level in terms of dialogue, joint management of the business of parliament and the co-chairing of several important committees, the same sort of thing be replicated to some extent at regional and village levels. It seems wrong that councillors representing forty percent of the electorate in Region 4 be totally excluded from the chairmanship of all the committees.

The Chairman should surely also feel obliged to respond in detail to the claim that the council had performed poorly as regards those areas on the east coast which claim to be marginalised and were a prominent part of the recent protests and which fell within the council's jurisdiction. Why wasn't more done to address the numerous problems that have been raised by the residents? Was it a lack of funds, did the sub-committees meet to consider their respective portfolios, did they meet the people to ascertain their problems?

In what appears to be a new dispensation of inclusiveness there must clearly be a much higher level of accountability by the RDCs, including those controlled by the opposition.