Local government and you

first_imgDear Editor,The Government Information Agency article of January 23, 2017, titled ‘Consultations on regional flags should conclude by April’, reported on the Communities Ministry’s approach to move ahead with their renaming of the 10 administrative regions and the concurrent identification of proposed regional flags and emblems as a part of the Government’s efforts to foster regional empowerment and pride. The responsible Minister, Ronald Bulkan, seems caught in a time warp as he attempts to advance his Government’s foundationless and myopic vision for progress and development. In so doing, he utilised the occasion of the inaugural meeting of the National Regional Development Consultative Committee (NRDCC) to present specimens and discusses how to move forward with the designs of the flags and emblems. Of note, it was previously highlighted that this shadow organisation which is touted to meet once annually according to the press release is meaningless.It is also recalled that this meeting which was held at the Marriott Hotel on January 20, 2017, had sparse representation by many Regional Democratic Councils (RDC), mainly due to the delayed invitations dispatched a mere few hours before, to many People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won Councils. Notwithstanding, it was noted by Minister Bulkan that the parliamentary Opposition has opposed these efforts, and that his Administration will not be deterred.The Regional Executive Officers were used to sell the idea of regional identity, a plan which from the inception, did not find favour with the Regional Chairmen of at least seven of the 10 regions. In particular, the Chairmen of regions won by the PPP who in no uncertain terms, rejected the proposals put forward by the Regional Executive Officers and the Communities Ministry to rename regions and introduce regional flags.The PPP/C supported their Chairmen’s position and agreed that there is no need for regional flags. The PPP’s contention is clear and logical in that the Golden Arrowhead is the National Flag for all Guyana and the laws make way to respect the National Flag and no other flags to represent separate regions of this country.Further, the changes to names of regions are likely to have individual and collective costs, the resources for which could be otherwise meaningfully utilised developmentally as well as leading to other significant implications. Among these a few are highlighted as follow:1. The Regional Chairmen are the heads of the regions and not any Mayor and Regional Executive Officers, thus the need to respect their decisions. However, the coalition Government through its Communities Ministry has shown no respect for the Constitution or any other laws or By-laws of this country; so they continue to defy the legality of the authority that be and embark on doing whatever they feel like doing.2. The consultation exercise to convince the residents of the need for regional flags and the renaming of the regions are poorly attended by a few selected ‘Yes’ persons who are supporters of the Government. Thus, the consultations are not broad based and are non-informative on the true reasons for the flag and renaming exercises. It’s more of a directive than a consultation.3. The ideas of changing the names of the region can only be classified as a waste of time and money and ignorance of the regions, to the highest extent. An administrative region is named through its boundaries which simply indicate its geographical location, simple and informative like that. Region Three, for example, is Essequibo Islands- West Demerara, so one definitely knows where that region begins and ends geographically, without having to research its location. So what could be simpler?4. The change of names of regions will have significant implications for legal and regulatory institutions which would have to update records along which hundreds of thousands of local and Diaspora taxpayers who would be required to find time and monies to update registrations, certificates, titles etc.,Will the replacement TIN certificates be provided free of cost and will GRA have the resources to dedicate to this sub-optimal process?5. It is not surprising that under the current leadership, not a word on the issue has been mentioned by the Guyana Elections Commission. It is critical however that GECOM would have to consider the impact on the Register of Registrants as the entire local government system regarding mandatory review and modification of addresses for names in accordance with the Local Democratic Organs, Chapter 28:09 would certainly be affected. The cost for re-naming and changing letter-Heads and the numerous other changes such as billboards will be very costly. Further, the students in schools will have to learn and know the changes in preparation for their examinations in school. The numerous changes that will follow will be too much for our people. The Minister Bulkan must appoint the Local Government Commission now.Sincerely,Neil Kumarlast_img

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