Minister Bulkan underscores GAM’s role in local development-at opening of Municipal Conference – Opposition controlled councils absent
GINA, GUYANA, Friday, May 19, 2017
The interim management committee of the Guyana Association of Municipalities (GAM) has worked feverishly over the past weeks planning and organising the two-day inaugural Municipal Conference 2017 to create the opportunity for the local officials to meet, share experiences and best practices for the development of their individual towns and Guyana, as a whole.
The event was dubbed an “historic one” by Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan. The minister with responsibility for local government also hailed it as another significant milestone achievement in the resuscitation and rebuilding of the local government system.
Addressing the opening ceremony at the Marriott Hotel, the minister also underscored the important role a re-activated GAM would play in local development, particularly as it relates to President David Granger’s charge to have the municipalities serve as Capital Towns with administrative centres that attract investment, promote business and drive the economic development in the country’s 10 regions.
The Minister said, “GAM has a critical role to play in the emergence of developmental local governments, by assisting and building the capacity of local government members to adopt good local government practices and to promote effective local development.” The conference forms part of the reactivation of GAM.
Whilst the minister said that he was confident that the two-day conference will produce useful and beneficial priority actions for the municipalities, he also offered areas for consideration for the towns’ development. These include the recognition of the specificity of local development, as well as its relations to national and global development efforts, and clarifying the role and responsibilities of local government in promoting it.
Absent from the conference were the mayors, deputies and councillors of the opposition controlled municipalities. Minister Bulkan observed that this was not the choosing of the councillors. “These mayors and councillors, contributed fully to the planning of the conference and the resuscitation of the GAM. Their absence is an imposed one. It is an imposition that is a product of warped thinking, and one that reflects and represents the antithesis of local democracy and local empowerment. They are not being asked to serve and represent the interest of their residents, but rather located elsewhere, selfish individuals engaged in an imaginary struggle,” the minister said.
He urged the mayors and councillors present to “remain focused and not give in,” and to continue to think about their residents and their
communities. “Think about what are in their best interest and not of others, whose time has come and gone. Look ahead not behind, look to the future not to the past,” he urged these absent councillors.
The minister also acknowledged the courage exhibited by the municipality of Rosehall, who despite being warned not to attend the conference was represented by its deputy mayor.
The representative of the municipalities, who travelled “across rivers, hills, political party lines and differences” to be present at the conference towards advancing the cause of municipalities were also applauded by the Interim Chairman of GAM and Mayor of Linden Carwyn Holland.
“Congratulations to my comrades and all municipalities for this great effort in the realm of local governance. My fellow mayors, your commitment towards working for a more meaningful and collaborative relationship between our municipalities is commendable and noteworthy,” Mayor Holland said.
He also thanked each and every town for their months of hard work in getting to the conference. “The mayors, the deputies, the councillors worked across the aisle to ensure we could be here today and it was my distinct pleasure as chairman of the planning committee to work with you all,” Mayor Holland told the gathering.
GAM started 12 years ago with six municipalities guided by eight key objectives, the major of which was to unite municipalities of Guyana with the respective councils through a body whose common effort shall be devoted to the sustenance and development of respective municipalities and their communities.
Undoubtedly the dynamics of local government has shifted in those 12 years. Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase -Greene in her address noted the newly established towns and the platform for local democracy which was renewed in 2016.
“I believe that we are gathered here one year late, because the work of the GAM is important and must begin to impact the advancement of municipalities in collaboration with you our valued stakeholders,” she said.
She urged that, “Today marks the rebirth of the Guyana Association of Municipalities. Let us all support the call for municipalities to be reposition. In fact the time is now for us to reorganise ourselves as critical partners in national development. It is time for action,” Mayor Chase-Green stressed.
Over the next two days of the Municipal Conference, there will be the resuscitation of GAM including the elections of office bearers and the rolling out of GAM’s draft Action Plan, along with other discourses and deliberations on the way forward for the municipalities.
Pivotal to the agenda will be the advancement of the municipalities towards Capital Towns and incorporating a “Green Economy.”
There will be two-days of exhibition showcasing the uniqueness and the best of the nine municipalities. The conference is being held under the theme, “Positioning Municipalities as critical partners in national development
By: Macalia Santos