It would be remiss of me not to comment on what is happening for local governance and embodies the current regime’s approach to governance; and, more importantly, not to suggest what was planned and what is feasible for achieving good governance in local government.
In a previous letter, I identified where the Minister of Local Government had invested himself with an authority that was not his, and in doing so, I sought to prevent the local democratic councils from exercising the authority. authority that Parliament bequeathed to them, namely the authority to adjust rates for the purpose of taxing property and ultimately increasing income. Section 54 (2) of the Local Government Act reads as follows: “If, after discussion and, if necessary, alteration and modification of the estimate and the proposed rate, the local authority, by majority vote vote, agree on an estimate and a rate, such as the estimate and the rate are sent to the Minister for notification. The minister told local authorities that they are not allowed to apply new tariffs as provided for in local government laws. He does not have such authority.
The misrepresentation of Guyana’s legal provisions and the illegal attempt to exercise authority over local authorities seems to be the culture of some, who are vested with some authority in the local government system, as is also the case in most quarters. This is exactly what the chairman of the Local Government Commission demonstrated when he asserted that between Commission meetings “he is the Commission” and, under this pretext, sought to dismiss the city clerk by acting mayor and city councilors of Georgetown and appointing someone he deemed suitable. There is no such provision in the Local Government Commission Law, Law No. 18 of 2013, assented to by President Ramotar on November 6, 2013. Faber’s Law is ultra vires and illegal. The Commission must meet and achieve a quorum before such decisions can be made.
Suppose he had such authority, and give him the benefit of the doubt. Administrative law has been improved and strengthened to ensure that discretionary powers are not exercised in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner. There must be good reasons for such decisions. Faber, in his false communication, argued that this decision “is intended to facilitate the initiation by the Commission of the process of substantially filling the post of city clerk”. Faber would have a hard time explaining the connection between his stated intention and the impeachment of the acting city clerk. The plot does not end there. It was also reported that “members were invited at their statutory meeting… to agree to Acting City Clerk Sherry Jerrick returning to her substantive position… due to underperformance” quite unlike what the letter conveyed and in the absence of any process or conclusion in this regard. What a tangled web the President seemed to have woven.
It is regrettable that the Commission, and the President in particular, have not given priority to the institutional development of the Commission. The law provides that the Commission makes regulations for the conduct of its affairs. Such a development would create the basis for the Commission to be transparent rather than harmful in its operations. Rather than leading the development of local government, the Commission appears to be heading down the path of evil and bad governance. What is illustrated above is pervasive in the current pattern of governance and undermines the letter and spirit of the Constitution. People are constantly educated on the rule of law while those in authority embrace anarchy. The country calls for good governance rather than political machinations that hamper human rights and nation-building. No amount of wealth creation can replace the realization of human rights and institutional development, which are the cornerstones of nation building.
Local Government Working Group