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Municipal elections

Nasik Swami
Thursday, March 08, 2018

FIJI Labour Party (FLP) leader Mahendra Chaudhry says Local Government Minister Parveen Kumar keeps coming up with new excuses for not holding municipal council elections.

Mr Chaudhry said the minister should stop trying to hoodwink ratepayers and tell the truth.

He said Mr Kumar promised municipal elections in 2014.

"Barely a year later, he said elections could not be held because the Local Government Act was under review.

"Now he (Mr Kumar) says based on the terms of reference drawn up by the local government committee after extensive consultations, a Local Government Act Review committee would be appointed with five members to complete the review."

He said this was absolutely amazing.

"The 2013 Constitution was drawn up in three weeks but the Local Government Act cannot be reviewed in four years.

"Now we know the truth — the review committee has not even been set up yet, despite the minister's repeated promises," the Labour leader claimed.

"It is not just the municipal council elections. The Sugar Cane Growers Council and the Provincial Council elections have also not been on the agenda of this government.

"Ratepayers everywhere are also unhappy with the service provided by the administrators," he claimed.

"Town and city roads are in appalling condition, clogged drains are a major issue leading to widespread flooding in heavy rains, parks and gardens are neglected, rubbish lies everywhere — there is a pervasive atmosphere of neglect," Mr Chaudhry claimed.

At the opening of the Local Government Forum in Suva last week, Mr Kumar said the review of the Local Government Act was not only about the electoral system.

He said there were other Acts that needed to be looked into such as the Public Health Act, Land Transport Act, Subdivision of Lands Act, Town Planning Act, Litter Act, Business Licensing Act, Food Safety Act and the OHS Act.

Mr Kumar said there were some misconceptions and confusion about the role of the local government committee and Local Government Act review committee.

He said the local government committee, which was appointed in 2015, was set up to determine the extension of the boundaries and town and city declarations, and to prepare draft terms of reference of the review of the Local Government Act.

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