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Warner calls for local govt changes
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner is calling for a change in the way the local government system is being operated and wants someone to explain to him the role of the chief executive officers at regional corporations. This formed part of his contribution at Tuesday night’s consultation on local government at Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas.
The National Security Minister said he had been told many times that CEOs of the corporations were not answerable to mayors and chairmen. “What they tell me is that the CEO is responsible to the permanent secretary,” he said. Warner said this would create a problem in delivering service to the people if a council encounters a bad CEO, who believes he is not accountable to the mayor or chairman. He said such a CEO could stymie all the work and make the entire council look bad.
Citing an example he said the chairman of a particular regional corporation could not get the CEO to discipline a municipal policeman because the officer was a friend of the CEO. He also said CEOs of corporations cannot employ anyone because of instructions issued in 2008 that no employment cannot take place unless approved by the permanent secretary. Warner said corporations face severe labour shortages and there were no moves to rectify this problem.
He said he has a problem with the level of funding given to corporations. He said Tobago was given funding which it could not spend while corporations bigger than Tobago were given a fraction of what Tobago gets and is expected to deliver. The minister said mayors and chairman also do not have an input in the national budget.
He suggested that salaries of mayors and chairmen be equal in all districts. He said it is unfair for mayors in one area to receive a higher salary than one in another area. Warner said after three years, corporations still could not collect some form of taxes as land and homeowners were begging to pay land and building taxes but get a run around when they go to the corporations. He also suggested that councillors be appraised by their MPs.
Among members of the public giving feedback was Visham Babwah, a Chaguanas businessman, who claimed he was victimised by the Chaguanas Municipal Police when he complained to the media about police wrecking along Mulchan Sieuchand Road. Babwah said after the media report, the police showed up, humiliated and threatened his customers. He said when he called the Chaguanas Borough Corporation he was given a run around by the mayor who told him he does not control the police.
Backpay for workers
Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, in his contribution, said some regional corporation workers would soon get their backpay.
He said cheques for the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, San Juan, Point Fortin and Princes Town Regional Corporations and the Chaguanas Borough Corporation would be sent in tomorrow for payment. He said an application for backpay has been made by the Diego Martin Regional Corporation while other corporations have not yet applied for backpay. He said 52 roads were paved in Chaguanas at a cost of $12 million.
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