Georgetown, Guyana – (September 12, 2018) The hosting of Local Government Elections (LGE) on November 12, 2018 will not be postponed, President David Granger told residents of Sisters Village, East Bank Berbice this afternoon.
The President during a community meeting there reminded residents that LGE is a constitutional right which provides the citizens of Guyana with power. “I promised the nation and I promise you that as long as I am President LGE will occur whenever they fall due. I will not postpone LGE. I cannot postpone something you are entitled to; it is not a privilege it is something that is embedded in the constitution; your right to elect leaders of your choice,” said President Granger.
LGE were held for the first time after a 22 year hiatus, in March 2016. “It is because I believe that you are entitled to make decisions governing your own communities; it is because I believe that you have the right to elect your own leaders. It is because I believe it was wrong for the Minister of Local Government to go around the country installing interim management committees,” that LGE was held.
President Granger told the residents of Sisters Village who gathered in their numbers at the Friends Primary School, that local governance “is an important vehicle for social cohesion” and is not about partisanship.
“This is not a question of partisanship…it is a question of participation,” said the head-of-state who said residents have the power to improve their existing conditions. “The power is in your hands and that is why I committed to having LGE regularly as the constitution calls for.”
He stressed that Local Government is a means of mutual respect as persons will work together for a common good. “That is the beauty of LGE, everybody wins.”
Moreover, President Granger noted the low level of participation at elections in the region and called on the East Bank Berbice residents to carry out a massive mobilization exercise to ensure every adult is “brought into the web of LGE”.
The head-of-state urged the residents to carry out a “massive mobilization exercise”. “If you don’t participate, then it means ‘meh nah care’…if you participate and play the role of a citizen, then you are saying this is what I want for my community. You have to go door to door, street to street, field to field, and village to village so that everybody can hear and see you. Regardless of who you are voting for, people will turn out and you will get maximum participation,” said President Granger.
The President told villagers that non-participation will not see issues being solved; stressing that unity is the key to effecting change.
Meanwhile, he stressed the importance of villagers registering with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) adding that registering is the first step in being able to vote at any level. “Everyone needs to be registered,” he declared while reminding villagers that “LGE are very specific; these are different from General and Regional Elections… you have to vote where you belong, where you are registered.”
He also called on the residents to vote for substance and not on the basis of race or political affiliation. “You have to know what you are voting for. In LGE, you don’t vote for race or even political parties. You vote for your community, or improvement of your community… It is not a matter of blind loyalty; it is about what is best,” declared President Granger.
The President noted that over the years, residents of the East Bank Berbice have started to see changes albeit slow. He announced that street lights will be installed throughout the East Bank Berbice in the future while adding that having access to lights is not a luxury but a necessity.
“This is a question of getting organised so that the government could assist people who need assistance” he said pointing to the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme which can assist “household economies”.
The SLED programme seeks to provide financial support for entrepreneurial ventures, create income-generating opportunities, and promote improved practices in agriculture and livestock ventures, community development through the functioning of cooperatives and encourage successful business practices as well as enhancing the skills of community members through participation in projects.
In this light, the head-of-state pointed to the need to revitalize village economies as he strongly believes most villages in Guyana have the ability to produce food or to be involved in agro-processing. As such he urged villagers to look at the economic side of local government and not just the political side.
“The villages throughout the Corentyne can become economic power houses… this can be a function of local government,” he stated.
With three levels of government (central, regional and local) in Guyana, the President made it clear that local government is the most important arm as it sustains the whole structure of government. Persons at the local level are being strengthened and empowered to negotiate with the regional level and that level in turn collaborates with Central Government.
“If we fight each other none of the three levels will progress. We have to work together regardless of which party we come from,” declared President Granger who said he is satisfied that because of efforts made by his administration, better quality of services would be delivered to the people of East Bank Berbice.
President Granger also fielded questions from the residents and committed to having their concerns addressed.