Gov’t stands firm in its move to grant more authority to Regional Administrations -Minister Bulkan

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, May 08, 2017

The government is determined to give more autonomy to the regions by having local officials play a greater role in managing their own affairs. Opposition, from some quarters, to this process has been noted by the Administration, but Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan said that the process will go on.

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan

“The process does not have to wait for all to go forward in its entirety. Those who are ahead will lead the process and would serve as the example and inspiration for those who are resistant or unwilling. These dynamics are still to be played out, what is not subject to negotiation is the determination of the administration to move in this direction,” the minister told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

In keeping with a principle of de-centralisation and regional and local empowerment, the administration has signalled to the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) that among desirables to be promoted are regional identity and pride. Residents are being given the opportunity to make a determination on whether they would like to retain the existing name of their regions or if they would like to adopt a new name. The residents would also make a determination on flags and other emblems for the regions.

Unfortunately, Minister Bulkan noted, there are signs resistance in varying degrees among some of the RDCs, in particular those that are Opposition controlled. These same councils have also boycotted a similar initiative (the National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC) that was convened earlier this year, to allow for regional consultation on matters pertaining to regional development.

As such, Minister Bulkan has had cause to remind those recalcitrant RDCs that these initiatives of Central Government are ones that the regions do not have the liberty to resist. The legislation under which RDCs operates does not allow for such resistance. But importantly, Minister Bulkan told GINA, that the administration would not allow its strategic agenda to be derailed by an Opposition that does not see the benefits of instituting these changes.

“I find it extremely puzzling that our regions do not see the benefit of a programme such as this which is being championed by the Central Government, that allows for stronger regions, that allows for more empowerment by our regions, that allows for our regions to have a greater say in the management of their own regions and be less dependent on the Central Government,” the minister said.

These councils are unwilling to allow for greater degree of regional or local empowerment, but the administration is determined, Minister Bulkan said. “Our President is clear that a stronger country will emerge from stronger communities and from stronger regions, so we are committed to regional empowerment, and we will be forced to bring those reluctant and recalcitrant councils up to speed so that these projects will not be derailed, because it is for the benefit of the residents in those regions to allow for more efficient management and greater level of decision-making at the local and regional level,” the minister said.

The minister also took the opportunity to remind the local and regional councils that the democratic process will soon be upon them and the residents in their regions with the choice of whether they have confidence in councillors. “It is my belief, and it is one shared by most in my administration, that at crunch time, that the majority of our people will understand the importance of this principle of decentralisation of governmental power and devolutions of the functions of government; that they will see the efficiency that accrued as a result of instating that principle, and that at the right time they would reject those who do not see the importance of such a system and who want to go back to a centralised rule,” the minister said.

 

By: Macalia Santos

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