Local Gov’t Elections will be held this year – Minister Dharamlall

Some $4.1 billion has been budgeted for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold Local Government Elections (LGE) this year.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, MP, made the announcement Friday, during his contributions to the 2022 national budget debate in the National Assembly.

 “We believe in democracy and we believe in people’s choices. We believe (that) for our country to continue to evolve (and) for development to come flowingly to our people, that we must have Local Government Elections… We have budgeted billions of dollars for Local Government Elections (LGE) and we are going to have Local Government Elections (LGE) this year,” he told the House.

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall MP

He also addressed reports that opposition nominated GECOM commissioners are attempting to stymie the election process.  According to Minister Dharamlall, the move is connected to the ongoing conflict between the coalition parties on whether or not they should contest the elections as a collective unit.  

“The PNC is in a quandary right now, so they are threatening the conduct of local government elections. But we have budgeted billions of dollars for GECOM, in excess of $4.1 billion and so the local government elections is on the cards for the government during the course of this year.”

He said the senseless attempt by the opposition is caused by their fear of losing their strongholds within the Local Democratic Organs (LDOs).

“There are some constituencies that they are fearful of losing and so they wanted to remain that way until the next few months. But you know what, come to this Local Government Election, you are going to lose a lot of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and you are going to lose more constituencies,” he added.

Minister Dharamlall told the House that the opposition need not worry about this, as they are accustomed to losing several battles to the government, as he cited the No Confidence Motion of December 2018, as well as the 2016 and 2018 LGEs.

Since taking office in August 2020, the PPP/C Administration had promised to host the LGE, once GECOM could operate impartially to restore citizens’ confidence in democracy.

This stance taken is stemmed from the March 2 General and Regional Elections (GRE) fiasco which dragged on the impending inauguration of the PPP Administration. While the local government ministry was prepared for LGE in 2021, the elections machinery at GECOM was not in a position to proceed.