Municipalities’ Association to be resuscitated

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Mayors are currently engaged in two days of deliberations aimed at formulating an action plan for the resuscitation of the Guyana Association of Municipalities (GAM).

Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan addressing the opening of the two-day workshop for the re-launch of the Guyana Association of Municipalities

GAM was founded in March 22, 2005 towards achieving a unified approach to the development of municipalities in Guyana, in pursuance of better service to their respective communities. Over the years, the local government association, like many aspects of the local government structure, however, fell into disrepair.

The deliberations are to enable the representatives of the municipalities to identify some of the key activities that can be undertaken, within the shortest time possible, for GAM’s reactivation. The session began this morning at the Herdmanston Lodge in Queenstown, following opening remarks by National Coordinator of the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) programme in Guyana, Roger Rogers and a message by the Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan.

Addressing the session, Minister Bulkan noted that GAM’s resuscitation is but one component in the “very arduous task” of restoring the functionality of the local government system.

March 18, 2017 marked one-year since the government had embarked on this process of restoration and repair of the “broken system.” The

The National Coordinator of the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) programme in Guyana, Roger Rogers addressing the opening of the two-day workshop for the re-launch of the GAM

holding of the long-awaited Local Government Election after some 22 years, was “historic” as it paved the way for democratic renewal and for the new councils which were coming into being, to perform their functions without undue interference, from Central Government. The councils were entering into a different framework, where they would be independent and their authority and autonomy respected, a fact and a feature that had been absent for over two decades.

One year on, Minister Bulkan noted that, “many still complain and even question the role and effectiveness of local government organs.” The minister however pointed out that the repair and the restoration of the local government system, “is not one that can be effected overnight.” He noted that, “the system was subjected to severe pressure over an extended period of time” and that, “it will take time, given earnest commitment and resolve to be able to bring about this effectiveness and restoration.”

The role of local government is enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana, which is the supreme law of the land. Minister Bulkan reaffirmed that the government remains committed to the respect of the provisions of the Constitution. “Those provisions in relation to Local Government are there for a purpose, so in that regard our job, both at the Central Government and the Ministry is to support this rebuilding and renewal process and to work towards the restoring of the functionality within councils, which had been damaged and degraded,” the minister said.

Mayors from the various municipalities gathered at the Herdmanston Lodge in Queenstown to brainstorming the steps for an action plan to re-launch the Guyana Association of Municipalities

Bulkan noted that in this endeavour that there will be “mis-steps along the way.” The minister referenced the public response to the parking meter initiative that has been effected by the Georgetown municipality as one such example. He noted however that even in the mis-step, lessons have been learnt.  Among these, the minister observed is the need for wide stakeholder consultations by councils prior to embarking on new projects and initiatives and the need for full engagement within councils.

Meanwhile, in relation to what support the ministry will offer towards the soon to be resuscitated GAM, the minister announced that the ministry would be able to provide subvention to defray, at least initially, significant portions of the administrative expensive that would be incurred for the functioning of the association.

The ministry would also be able to provide assistance and support in relation to the funding of project proposals which would have been generated, as well as provide support in the setting of standards, the minister said. However, he added that thereafter it will be members of the association that would have the responsibility of delivering on their association’s objectives.

CARILED is a Canadian-funded project, implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that has since 2000 been partnering with the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, now Ministry of Communities to support the implementation of a number of training programmes, workshops and other initiatives for the empowerment of  the local government system. CARILED has supported the ministry in the execution of the two-day deliberation for GAM’s resuscitation.

With respect to the revival of the association, the National Coordinator of the CARILED programme in Guyana said that it is timely. “It is indeed our pleasure, from a CARILED standpoint to empower local government to continue to contribute to national development,” Rogers said.

He noted that the local government association has, and can provide a very important platform for knowledge sharing and knowledge management. “It provides an opportunity where leaders from the various municipalities can meet, share, deliberate and develop best practices that can allow them to be more effective and efficient in their various areas,” Rogers said. “It can allow us to access resources to our own local government institutional strengthening and respective municipal capacity building,” he explained. Rogers added that it is from this standpoint that CARILED is supporting the ministry in moving the process of GAM’s resuscitation.

 

By: Macalia Santos

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