Local Government elections are expected to be held within the next three months— between late November and early December of this year.
The proposed date was given by Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein in a telephone interview with Guardian Media on Wednesday.
"I think the time for local elections should be around the end of November, early December. Well, I don't know the date but it should be around November, December..." Hosein said.
Hosein gave the suggested date five days after appearing before a Joint Select Committee on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Local Government Reform) Bill where he described productivity levels at the country's 14 corporations "as the worst."
The bill, which was laid in the Lower House, seeks to amend the existing municipal corporation's act and several pieces of its current legislation.
It also serves to make delivery of goods and services effective and efficient.
Insisting that staff at the corporations have poor work ethics, Hosein did not hold back his tongue, as he blamed "management issues" on the part of CEOs for the ongoing problem.
"No matter how much local government reform we want...if people can't do what they are asked to do the reform would not work. Once the reform comes in everybody would fall in. Somebody has to be the driving force between the ministry and corporations," he had said.
"I didn't come to look for no friends in there. I came to do a job. When my time is up I have to go my way. While I am there I will talk and get the job done in the right way. I will get opposition but I am focused on what I have to do."
Hosein who served as San Fernando mayor for three years said on Wednesday that it was the norm to visit a corporation and see workers scrolling through Facebook, engaged on their cellphone or in talk sessions with their co-workers rather than working.
Other employees, he said, would either leave work early or not show up at all and still collect a full day's pay.
This, he said, puts the corporations in a bad light.
The corporations have 14,000 employees.
Since before Independence, Hosein said local government reform has been on the country's political agenda.
"Local government reform will give corporations the power to manage their own affairs. So they will choose local contractors within their corporation and collect their own residential taxes. As of now, contractors could come from Sangre Grande and work in Penal/Debe. When the reform comes that cannot happen. The council will have the say of what projects they want...they would prioritise which one they want over which one."
Hosein said the biggest stumbling block Government would face with the reform would be implementation.
Once the bill goes into effect, Hosein said there would be changes with the way corporations operate and do business.
Questioned about corporations operating with little or no funding to undertake projects, Hosein said this has always been an issue with local government.
"Not today, not the last three years, not six years...Funding is not available like how it used to be."
In the 2018/2019 Budget, Hosein's ministry was allocated $1.52 billion.
While some corporations called on Hosein to explain why monies have not been forthcoming, he said his ministry just acts as a conduit between the corporations and Finance Ministry.
"So when requests for funding comes to the ministry we send it to Finance and Finance would send the cheques back to us and we would filter it down to the 14 corporations."
In the last five weeks, Hosein said he had read with interest in the Sunday Guardian newspaper complaints of burgesses in Chaguanas, Sangre Grande, Princes Town and Arima corporations about lack of representation by some councillors.
Equally disturbing, Hosein said, many burgesses could not identify their councillors which showed they were not connecting with people on the ground.
Hosein said it was disappointing for a burgess not to know their councillor.
At all times, Hosein said, chairmen, councillors and mayors should be easily accessible to the public.
"When a man complains about a drain you don't have to get it done one time. But you need to talk and listen. Patrick Manning used to tell me, God gave every human being two ears and a mouth for one reason. It is not what you say but how you say it."
Hosein said it was improper and unprofessional for councillors to quarrel with burgesses when they raise an issue affecting them.
"You can't do that (quarrel). You have to talk to the people and explain to them the situation. You can't be wrong and strong."