A statement from APNU+AFC Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul follows:
The so-called consultation on the Solid Waste Management Bill 2022 is a clear indication that the PPP is not committed to local democracy and is a mechanism to ensure ministerial domination of solid waste management and to put resources in the hands of PPP elites, friends, families and favorites.
The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and it’s Minister, Nigel Dharamlall, are involved in a charade rather than genuine consultation on the Solid Waste Management Bill 2022 that is to be tabled in the National Assembly.
Only selected Local Government Organs were invited to the consultations while total disrespect and disregard are shown for Regions Four, Seven and Ten; they were not invited. One will assume that the Shadow Minister for Local Government and Regional Development would have been invited.
I was not invited nor presented with a draft copy of the Bill from the Ministry for perusal and comments. I received a copy of the Bill from a stakeholder and upon perusal, I cannot support its current construct. It is most unfortunate and diabolical to say the least, that the PPP Government touts oneness and togetherness but fails to show the country and world actions towards ensuring a united Guyana.
The consultations on the Solid Waste Management Bill 2022 should include all stakeholders especially the Regional Democratic Councils. The direct exclusion of Regions Four, Seven and Ten is a clear indication of the divisive nature of the government.
The Bill gives the Minister authority beyond policy guidance and usurps the authority of the Solid Waste Management Authority. It states that a person cannot be appointed as the Solid Waste Manager, Accountant or Secretary without the prior approval of the Minister.
This is a deliberate act to push aside the established criteria of employment and professionalism under the Public Service Commission and give the Minister the power to appoint friends, families and favorites of the PPP. A breeding ground for corruption, nepotism and cronyism.
Additionally, the second schedule of the Bill provides a list of the agencies concerned with solid waste management namely, all Regional Democratic Councils, all Municipalities, all Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and many other agencies but yet in the composition of the Authority to manage the Authority as stated in the First Schedule, there is no member from any of the RDCs, Municipalities or NDCs.
My other comments on the Bill will be reserved for the debates in the National Assembly. Minister Nigel Dharamlall needs to be more mature and do better at the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
I therefore call on the Minister to hold a more transparent and inclusive consultation on the Solid Waste Management Bill 2022 where the views of all stakeholders can be taken into consideration for a more comprehensive and acceptable Bill.
This is a Bill that I am sure can enjoy the full support of the entire National Assembly but the Minister must first show an interest in a meaningful role for professionals and a willingness to be inclusive.