Select committee on constitution reform approves recommendations on local government

Stabroek News
October 19, 1999

The Special Select Committee yesterday approved the recommendations of the Constitution Reform Commission on local government, including that which called for the re-writing of Articles 71-78 of the Constitution.

Additionally, the committee agreed to the abolition of the Supreme Congress of the People and the abolition of the National Congress of Local Democratic Organisation (NCLDO) and the representation of that body in the National Assembly.

It also agreed that it would recommend to the National Assembly that Articles 71-78 be re-written to accord with the principles which would underpin the local government system.

The committee also agreed that it would consider the recommendation which provides that elections to the local government bodies below the level of the regional democratic councils when it returns to its consideration of the recommendation on the electoral system tomorrow. It will also look at the implications for the electoral system in the abolition of the NCLDO representation in the National Assembly. It was argued that the committee should seek the advice of an expert on electoral systems, particularly as to its effects on the proportionality aspect of the Assembly.

The recommendation provides for elections below the regional level to be characterised by proportionality and accountability to the electorate.

In considering the recommendation of the commission on the re-establishment of the village council system, the committee agreed that the reform of the local government system should be set out in a White Paper which would allow for public comment on the proposals before the appropriate legislation is tabled.

The recommendation provided for the parliament to establish village councils which would be quasi-local government bodies on the basis of demands for them by the communities concerned. However, it was noted that it was unfair that some villages would be granted permission to have village councils while others would be denied permission to do so.

Another recommendation approved was that relating to the allocation of revenue. It was noted that while such allocation was provided for by legislation, it was felt that the allocation was at best unfair and the constitution should provide for objective criteria for such allocation.

The committee also approved the recommendation calling for the establishment of a local government commission notwithstanding the fact that, as advised by its legal advisers, there is legislation which provides for such a commission. They contended that their approval would ensure that the provision for the establishment of the local government commission is activated.

Yesterday's meeting also saw the return of PNC members Lance Carberry, Raphael Trotman and Deborah Backer. The three PNC members had staged a walkout last week in frustration at the progress being made as a result of the lack of what they termed a structured approach to its work by the committee.

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