GINA, GUYANA, Monday, February 27, 2017
Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan said that Central Government has the legislative strength and ammunition to deal with recalcitrant Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs.)
Minister Bulkan was at time addressing councillors in Region Nine at a meeting in the RDC boardroom in Lethem on the lukewarm support of the Opposition-controlled regional council to government-led programmes and initiatives designed to empower local government organs.
Through these programmes and initiatives Central Government is seeking to relinquish vast areas of control of the country to the local government organs, and providing for them to operate with independence. By way of majority of the political structure of the councils, many of the local government organs, in particular the RDCs have chosen not to participate in these empowerment initiatives.
Speaking with the Region Nine councillors, Bulkan explained however, that the RDC has a legislative responsibility to participate. The minister pointed out that the legislation states that in the management and development of the region, every council should be guided by the general policies of the government, and the national objectives as set by the government.
The legislation further states that every council must devise it general development plans and programmes to ensure consistency with the national policies and objectives, and that in the performance of its objective each councillor shall endeavour to cooperate with every other councillor, and all socioeconomic institutions in the area.
“The crafters of the legislation understood clearly that an RDC cannot function purely as any other organisations, only on majority control. They understood that an RDC is a hybrid institution and every councillor on that council has a duty to incorporate the views of the minority councillors,” the Minister said.
He said that the time might come when the legislation will be revised to give the RDC that level of autonomy, where they can operate with inconsistency with the national policies and objectives, “but right now they cannot operate as a lone ranger. They have to be guided by central government’s policies and operate within those policies, and so they cannot ignore minor concerns,” the minister said.
Just recently, regional officials from the Opposition-controlled RDCs and municipalities boycotted the inaugural meeting of the National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC), which was established to ensure that the RDCs, the NDCs, municipalities, village councils and other regional stakeholders meet to discuss and plan for regional development. It is a consultative mechanism, and cannot usurp the functions of any of the local democratic organs.
Speaking to the Region Nine councillors, Bulkan said, “This is an initiative of the central government to empower you and to give you more responsibility and more ownership over the activities in your area and you are being denied to participate.”
The minister reiterated that central government would continue to extend the hand of cooperation and collaboration to all the local government organs.
He said, if at the end of the day, the attitude of the RDCs is to continue to boycott the government’s effort, then the government will in turn not be sidetracked in its agenda of moving towards de-centralisation.
The RDC of Region Nine was among those that boycotted the inaugural meeting of the NRDCC. The others are Regions One, Two, Three, Five and Six.
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