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