Decentralisation: improved governance and service delivery
─ govt rejecting ‘winner takes all’, embracing local democracy
─ results in safer, secure more cohesive communities
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, October 12, 2019
The importance and relevance of local democracy have been highlighted to Toshaos and village leaders as they gathered to deliberate at the Annual National Toshaos Conference (NTC) held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
Minister of Communities, Hon. Ronald Bulkan took the opportunity to state the government’s position in this regard.
Speaking specifically to the government’s commitment to hosting Local Government Elections (LGE) and the establishment of capital towns in hinterland regions, he reminded that before the Coalition Government took office, development in key hinterland areas had stagnated.
The Communities Minister proudly mentioned the fact that two successful Local Government Elections (LGE) have been held since the Coalition took office in 2015; March 2016 and November 2018. For the last LGE, eight new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) have been established. The ultimate goal is to empower communities.
“Prior to 2015, this concept of local government was alien. Even if someone tried to speak of local government before 2015, it was like trying to speak a foreign language because it didn’t exist as part of our governance architecture. Government encompassed only central government… despite that a local governance system was provided for and enshrined in our constitution.”
He further explained that the establishment of new capital towns has eliminated the need for persons to expend large sums of money to travel to Georgetown to access public services – the facilities are now decentralised.
“Capital towns are the administrative centres for the four regions [Region 1-Mabaruma, Region 7-Bartica, Region 8-Mahdia and Region 9-Lethem]. The main purpose of these capital towns is to provide critical government services within the region,” the minister said.
He emphasised that with the re-introduction of local democracy, the management of constituencies has been handed over to the people and via this democratic process those in charge have been “elected by the people to serve the people.” This has led to safer, better-managed communities and regions he added.
“We are moving away from the formula of ‘winner takes all’. We are embracing a decentralised system of governance where each of these 70 NDCs and 10 town councils has legal responsibility for the management of their areas,” Minister Bulkan explained.