Political parties call for elected officials

Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube. Picture: FT FILE

OPPOSITION parties have called for elected officials in Fiji’s towns and cities.

They were commenting on the results of the latest Tebbutt-Times Poll showing that Fijians wanted elected mayors to run municipal councils, not government-appointed administrators.

Unity Fiji Party leader Savenaca Narube said local governments played an important role in serving the public with street lighting, road maintenance, garbage disposal, building standards, health, and planning future development. He said these services were essential to the security, health and wellbeing of people in towns and cities.

“In any kind of government whether it’s local, national, provincial or district, the people must have their say,” Mr Narube said.

“They pay their taxes and city rates. They must therefore have a say in who makes decisions on their lives. We must not deny them their democratic representation. “The result of this Tebbutt poll indicates that there is wide support to return to democracy in the governance of our towns and cities.”

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said the fact that 66 per cent of those polled in all demographics wanted elected municipal councils in the country showed people wanted to elect their representatives so that they were accountable to them. “This right has been denied since the dissolution of the municipal councils in 2009. And this has meant that ratepayers have no right and voice in determining how their rates and other fees and charges levied by the municipalities are used,” Prof Prasad said.

“This is unacceptable.” Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said for the past 12 years, local government elections have been deferred when a true democracy required elections to be held at the secondary level.

“The result of the latest Tebbutt Times poll endorses Fiji Labour Party’s constant call for municipal council elections to be held to replace government-appointed administrators,” Mr Chaudhry said.

He also claimed that unelected administrators were not accountable to the ratepayers who funded the activities of the councils. Emailed requests for comments on the poll results were also sent to the FijiFirst party, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and the Freedom Alliance Party on Wednesday.

They had not responded when this edition went to press last night. The poll results recorded 66 per cent of those polled across all demographic measures – gender, ethnicity, age, geographic division and urban and rural location – supporting elected administrators, as opposed to one appointed by Government.

A further 26 per cent preferred to see local councils being run by government-appointed administrators while two per cent declined to answer, and six per cent were unsure.

Those polled were asked to choose between two options – local councils run by an administrator appointed by the government; or run by a mayor elected by the public.

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