Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says her government is moving to prevent the postponement of local government elections in the future. Speaking at the launch of local government reform consultations at San Fernando City Hall on Tuesday night, Persad-Bissessar said it was time to give constitutional protection to local government.
“I do recall in the recent past that local government elections were postponed time and time again. What we are hoping is to make the necessary changes so that no government can be capable of disrupting the local government elections in T&T,” Persad-Bissessar said. Under the Patrick Manning regime, local government elections were postponed on four consecutive occasions in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, allowing representatives to serve uninterrupted for more than six years.
The Prime Minister also recommended an increase in financial and human resources available to local government authorities and changing the formula to determine allocations. Persad-Bissessar also reiterated her appeal for councillors to be full-time employees. However, she said their remuneration packages must be upgraded.
“We are also thinking about empowering corporations to borrow for self-sustaining projects and to have construction of town halls in every district to be utilised for regular town meetings,” she added. She said training of local representatives in management and leadership skills related to the organisation of people and communities were also part of the Government’s agenda.
The Prime Minister also called for a people-centred approach to governance. She also questioned whether it was better to call all heads of local government corporations mayors, rather than chairmen. She also recommended that municipal police be placed under the Commissioner of Police, while still working at the level of local government.