How can GECOM conduct an election without a budget?

first_imgDear Editor,The Minister of Communities recently announced 12th November 2018 as the date for Local Government Elections (LGE).This announcement implies the obvious clear signal by the Guyana Elections Commission of readiness; albeit, the oblivion surrounding new Local Government areas, and the tight schedule implications for all concerned stakeholders.The required notice comes with a measure of pomposity as it relates to the Government’s so-called interest in democracy at this level. The superfluous talk-up must be recognised for the deception it seeks to camouflage. This is given the Coalition Government’s subversion of the Local Government Commission; the rather numerous acts of non-support, and often tolerated disruptive thuggish actions by many of their agents in councils of Local Authority Areas they did not win at the last LGE.Local Government Elections is a serious matter, and GECOM’s readiness must be transparent, timely, and equally revealing to all stakeholders, persons and groups contesting the Elections, and voters at large. The Chairman, Mr Patterson, recently boasted of his confidence in GECOM’s Public Relations mechanism to achieve this end. Observably, however, one cannot agree that these expectations have been efficiently and sufficiently met. Cases in point are as follows:GECOM is yet to prepare a budget for the elections. While it is known that G$2.9 billion has been approved in appropriations by the National Assembly for the event, it is sad that the sincerest view of the general public is that this will be yet another opportunity for the GECOM Secretariat to spend wild and have a three-month party.We are yet to hear about the clear demarcation of the constituencies in Local Authority Areas to be served by specific Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). Clear lines of demarcation of the boundaries is a must.While we are hearing that Minister Ronald Bulkan announced that there will be ten additional local Authority Areas, GECOM must clearly provide the communities and the leaders of the communities with all the relevant information, so that the candidates can prepare themselves properly for the up-coming elections.Minister Bulkan, in June this year, published in the Official Gazette an order to remove fourteen constituencies from well established areas. This gerrymandering is a matter of serious concern, and citizens are contending that this will further complicate the situation and lead to confusion. Splitting the NDCs will create serious problems, as there are several issues that are pending since 2016 Local Government Elections. The Malgre Tout and Canals NDCs suffered serious unsolved boundaries’ problems, and the Commissioners at GECOM cannot leave these boundary issues to the fantasy of the GECOM Secretariat.How can GECOM conduct an election without a budget? The Minister is absolutely correct to say that there is wasteful and un-necessary spending at the GECOM. Presently, the public is questioning the extravagant spending on transportation and meals at the just concluded continuous registration. Hundreds of friends and families of a particular party are employed, or they are on the payroll just to provide cover-up for the massive spending at the Secretariat.Guyanese are now demanding that the numerous transactions must be done in a transparent and accountable manner!!The Commission must ensure that proper consultations are done with the relevant stakeholders — inclusive of political parties and the residents themselves — regarding the newly instituted boundaries of the Local Authority Areas. In this respect, there is need for much clarity.Further, in the Local Authority Areas which now have reduced constituencies, a comprehensive boundary plan has to be established and tested before been put into operation. The Commission should edify the population on the criteria used in defining those new boundaries. A search on the website and the Official Gazette is yet to reveal the authority to which the new boundaries would be established.The Commission should also inform the nation on whether the new Local Authority Areas had their demarcation of boundaries done recently, or whether they are using the old established demarcations.In essence, the problems — old and new — MUST be effectively addressed by GECOM. As much as possible, the general public has to be informed, in a timely manner, of procedural changes, and be given clear and precise directions.We look forward to GECOM’s pronouncements on how the dissemination of key information is evaluated, and what actions are taken when the approaches prove to be less than effective.Sincerely,Neil Kumarlast_img

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