Crackdown on illegal activities

Rur­al De­vel­op­ment and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Kaz­im Ho­sein has in­struct­ed the heads of the 14 mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions to crack down on il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties at the mar­kets, il­le­gal dump­ing and to prop­er­ly clean and main­tain pub­lic ceme­ter­ies.

Speak­ing at the min­istry’s end of the year re­view ti­tled Projects, Plans and Pro­pos­als for Fis­cal 2018/2019 at San Fer­nan­do City Hall Au­di­to­ri­um, Ho­sein said Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions are due next year and they all need­ed to hit the road run­ning.

“Now more than ever you will be called up­on to pro­vide an ac­count to the peo­ple for what you have achieved and for what you have ad­vo­cat­ed and for how you have been treat­ing your burgess­es.”

The min­is­ter al­so re­vealed that the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Re­form leg­is­la­tion will be tak­en to Cab­i­net in Jan­u­ary which means that the new elect­ed coun­cil will be un­der the new sys­tem.

He ex­plained that un­der the lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form sys­tem, there will no longer be a Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­istry.

In­stead, he said, the cor­po­ra­tions will be re­port­ing to the Min­istry of Fi­nance and will op­er­ate un­der a sys­tem sim­i­lar to the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly which will give the cor­po­ra­tions more au­ton­o­my.

Ho­sein al­so an­nounced that from Jan­u­ary the CEPEP labour force will be spread equal­ly among three min­istries— the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port and his min­istry.

In­ter­viewed by re­porters af­ter­wards, Ho­sein said this move had noth­ing to do with Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Re­form and it will not af­fect the func­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the CEPEP board.

With re­gards to the mar­kets, the min­is­ter said he has re­ceived re­ports of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties at var­i­ous mar­kets. He not­ed that re­cent­ly there was a crack­down on il­le­gal sub­stances be­ing sold at the Port-of-Spain mar­ket.

Com­mend­ing the min­is­ter on this move, Port of-Spain may­or Joel Mar­tinez said, “From time to time we have asked our of­fi­cers to make rounds in the mar­ket be­cause the mar­ket is re­al­ly for pro­duce and for fam­i­lies to come and shop and we want to find a way to bring back fam­i­lies to the mar­ket space.”

With the new batch of Mu­nic­i­pal po­lice pass­ing out next week, Ho­sein said they in­tend to in­crease the pres­ence of mu­nic­i­pal po­lice at each mar­ket.

He said, “I am go­ing to vis­it the mar­kets and we are go­ing to en­sure that all the ceme­ter­ies are clean. We have mon­ey al­lo­cat­ed in the bud­get for wages so we just can­not say we will let the ceme­tery over­grow and peo­ple get­ting mon­ey and noth­ing hap­pen­ing. No, just as I am work­ing for my mon­ey peo­ple have to work for their mon­ey.”

Not­ing that the penal­ties for il­le­gal dump­ing will be dou­bled from next year, Ho­sein, ear­li­er in this ad­dress, in­struct­ed the cor­po­ra­tions to find the cul­prits and bring them to jus­tice.

Tack­ling is­sues of poor pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and cus­tomer ser­vice across the cor­po­ra­tions, the min­is­ter, urged chair­men, may­ors and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers to take charge of their ju­niors.

Not­ing over $982 mil­lion is spent on salaries, he asked the heads to en­sure that work­ers are do­ing the work they are be­ing paid to do.

Chair­man of the T&T As­so­ci­a­tion of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Au­thor­i­ty, An­tho­ny Roberts com­plained about the ex­treme­ly poor work­ing con­di­tions of lo­cal gov­ern­ment prac­ti­tion­ers.

He said the au­thor­i­ty will be ex­pand­ing the ob­jec­tives of the as­so­ci­a­tion in their new leg­is­la­tion so that they can legal­ly ad­vo­cate and lob­by on be­half of its mem­bers for bet­ter terms and con­di­tions.

Reporter: Sascha Wilson

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