AS the Senate debated a bill to validate acts by councillors done from last December up to the May 18 cut-off date established by the Privy Council, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, on Wednesday promised the Senate to amend the bill so its effect did not also extend to after May 18.
"I have reflected since Monday on contributions which have been made (on) clause five and I have benefited from a very illuminating conversation I have had with Independent Senator Dr Paul Richards ,which I acknowledge publicly.
"The rationale of clause five will be in due course be to validate the functions and acts or all things done by councillors and aldermen for the period between (December 2, 2022) to May 18, 2023." He said the hard work, diligence and progression of projects by councillors and aldermen has not gone unnoticed by the Government and will be validated by the bill when passed.
"In the period between May 18 (2023) to the date of the election – when that election is called within the prescribed period – the mayors remain in office. That speaks to the continuity that is provided for by section 14 of the Municipal Corporations Act."
He listed corporations' duties, including the upkeep of local roads and bridges, minor drains and watercourses, general sanitation and rodent control, garbage collection, recreation grounds, parks, cemeteries and crematoria, and markets and abattoirs.
Independent Senator Anthony Vieira intervened to ask details of the AG's proposed amendment to clause five.
Armour replied, "The amendment which I will be moving is when you look at clause five, the words to be deleted will be 'and thereafter exercised the functions of councillors and aldermen up until the commencement of this act.' That will be the amendment I will propose."
He then declared, "This bill underscores the Government’s vision for an effective local government system to facilitate the transformation and modernisation of local communities, for which this Government has been committed."
Armour quoted from the Government's 2016 policy document, saying, "Local government is the democratic representative of communities. It is closer to the people than Central Government and can be dubbed the ‘voice’ of communities.
"'The PNM will ensure that with the devolution from the Ministry of Local Government, the municipal corporations report directly to the Ministry of Finance, particularly on fiscal matters, and are adequately equipped and resourced to provide quality service to their communities and make improve the quality of life for all citizens.'”