GEORGETOWN, Guyana: President Bharrat Jagdeo is moving ahead with local government reform legislation after eight years of plans being at a standstill.
He says his administration will table a Bill in the National Assembly when Parliament reconvenes today.
“We plan to take at least one of the four pieces of legislation, the one that is critical for the elections in the latter part of this year. We would have enough opportunity, there in Parliament, for debate to take place and consultation and maybe a short period of two weeks or so when it would go into the select committee. In the absence of me meeting with the Leader of the Opposition directly we can do those discussions in Parliament and in the select committee,” he said.
Jagdeo said the consultations between himself and Leader of the Opposition, Robert Corbin, were at a standstill because of Corbin’s absence. Corbin recently underwent medical treatment in the United States.
However, Jagdeo said eight years was long enough for any consultative process and that in the absence of agreement between the parties outside of the National Assembly the best way to proceed was to hold a public debate in Parliament.
He said that a local government election was vital to the functioning of any democracy and that government could not prolong the process in order to satisfy the ‘whims and fancies’ of the opposition.
“It’s time to bring an end to all of these concerns and hold a local government election. The people of this country deserve no less. We can’t claim that we are a democracy and then not have local government elections held after so many years,” Jagdeo said.
Local government elections were last held in Guyana in 1994. Following calls for reform of the local government structure, a task force comprising members of the government and opposition was established to examine the changes needed and make recommendations for the necessary reforms.
The task force was able to reach an agreement on two of the four areas identified for reform, but was not successful on the others.