Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012 – Bill No. 20/20121953 07 Aug, 2013
FISCAL TRANSFERS BILL 2012 – Bill No. 20/2012
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development [Mr. G. Persaud]: Mr. Speaker, I beg that the Bill entitled Fiscal Transfers Bill 2012 – Bill No. 20/2012, standing in my name, be read a second time.
I wish, firstly, to commend the Members of the Special Select Committee which dealt with this Bill and I also wish to offer my commendation and thanks to the support staff of the Parliament Office as well as the staff of the Attorney General’s Chambers who worked very closely and tirelessly with the Committee in dealing with this Bill.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government stands in support of this Bill. We recognise that this is a big step in fulfilling the requirement under article 77A of our Constitution which states:
“Parliament by law should provide for the formulation and implementation of objective criteria for the purpose of allocation of resources to, and the garnering of resources by the local democratic organs”.
The ultimate aim of this Bill is to enhance the autonomy of local authorities across this country and to assist in their quest to be financially viable and for them to be able to sustain their operations through various mechanisms, as contained in the Bill. The Bill in itself seeks to point to a number of additional revenue generating areas, including vehicle parking meters, economic ventures, and economic partnerships with central government and other organisations.
The Bill seeks to introduce a formula with established criteria, as is required by the Constitution, to allow for governmental support, via the National Assembly, to the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and six municipalities. While the formula seems to be similar for 70 of the local authority areas, Georgetown is treated somewhat differently and that is explained in the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to encourage all Members of this honourable House to give their support to the second reading of this Bill. [Applause]
Mr. G. Persaud (replying): Mr. Speaker, permit me to express my profound thanks to all the Members of this Hon. House who have spoken on this Bill.
Because I recognise that we have four Bills this afternoon I would have stuck to dealing with each bill one at a time and avoid the generality. I will stick to that mode because I believe that they are four different bills and one shoe cannot fit all. There are different statements that will have to be made, there are different realities surrounding each of these bills. As we discourse and deliberate on them I want to ensure my comments are relevant and important.
The Hon. Member Mr. Williams gave us wonderful insight into the work of the Task Force. I am so happy he has made it very clear by his admission that the then Mr. Desmond Hoyte, and the then President His Excellency Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo would have recognised, in Mr. Williams’ words, that local government elections could not have been held before the reform process was completed. So it is very apt that that statement was made here today. It would have put to rest many of the statements that would have been made in this House, finger pointing to the Government that we were deliberately delaying the holding of local government elections. I heard a little bit here too. What we are witnessing, as we call history in the making today, would have been history recorded before if in the Ninth Parliament we had half of the dedication, commitment and the discipline that was displayed by Members of the Opposition of the Special Select Committee on Local Government in the Tenth Parliament.
Mr. Speaker: Maybe Mr. Williams should have chaired the committee in the Ninth Parliament.
Mr. G. Persaud: Maybe it was only if he chaired then he would attend. Mr. Speaker, there is a statement it is better late than never. I am extremely happy that we are late. I am however sad we could not have taken the opportunities when they presented themselves earlier. As I said sometime before in this House we are moving ahead. Sometimes one has to make sure that the baggage remains.
The Bill in itself contains a formula which will seek to allow for 50% whatever is apportioned by this Parliament at budget time to be transferred to the local authorities, be it municipalities or NDC, and the remaining 50% is treated by population density, geographical mass, and the rate of collection based on the previous year. They are rated at 30% for the population density and geographical mass whilst 40% is rated on the rate of collections for the 65 NDCs and five out of the six municipalities. The municipality of Georgetown, as I said, is rated differently. So it somehow will cause a greater objectivity much more justified in terms of providing subvention support to the various local democratic organs. With that I wish to ask that the Bill be read for a second time. [Applause]
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