Picturte Rishi Ragoonath
Despite local government reform being a 2015 election promise of the People’s National Movement, the legislation that would give more autonomy to municipal corporations will not be ready ahead of the December 2 Local Government Elections.
People’s National Movement assistant campaign manager Franklin Khan told reporters yesterday that the Local Government Reform Bill, which seeks to amend the Municipal Corporation’s Act, the Property Tax Act and six others, is currently before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.
“The chances are the legislation will not be passed before the local government elections. Having said that, for over four decades, successive administrations have been promising local government reform.
It is this administration that has successfully done it and I was instrumental in that due to the consultations when I was the Minister of Local Government.
“I think it is good legislation and it will be passed, probably shortly after the local government elections with proclamation clauses in which it will be rolled out over the next couple of years,” Khan said.
Khan said it remains one of the Government’s priorities. Asked whether he believes there will be a backlash at the polls for failing to implement the reform before elections, he said the legislation was complex, but this PNM was the only Government to bring the legislation to Parliament.
Last Saturday, the Movement for Social Justice presented its slate of candidates to overthrow the UNC and PNM.
The UNC is expected to present their candidates in Couva on Sunday. Khan said the PNM will also launch its campaign at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain this Sunday and presents its candidates.
Yesterday, the PNM candidates did a simulation in preparation of nomination day at the various Elections & Boundaries Commission offices.
With less than a month for its campaign, he said the PNM has been carrying out the groundwork for several months and the mass meetings will begin today with a meeting at the Exodus pan yard in Tunapuna.
“I think we want to go one or two steps ahead. You never contest an election, especially the PNM, hoping to do just as you did the last time. You always want improvement. I see no reason why we cannot improve on our performance from 2016.”
While various UNC municipal corporations have claimed that the Central Government was withholding funds to turn the people against their representatives, Khan said funds were shared evenly throughout all corporations.
And as the UNC places more emphasis on marginal corporations, such as Sangre Grande, he said the PNM already has the leadership there and hoped to increase its seats there.
Reporter: Kevon Felmine