The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) calls on the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment to advance the local government elections as soon as possible in order to enable a legitimate voice for the ratepayers of this country. CCF noted that the last municipal elections were held in October 2005.
“The recent Tebbutt-Times poll revelation that 68% of people in the country prefer to have local councils run by mayors elected by the public in last Saturday’s The Fiji Times (10/06/17) has vindicated this stand,” said Mr Bulutani Mataitawakilai, the Chief Executive Officer of CCF.
Mr Mataitawakilai highlighted that whilst the municipal councils have been assisted with aid and funding from the central government for much needed development, it is nevertheless the responsibility of any government to inject these development assistance to local governments. Furthermore, development assistance should not be perceived as an excuse for deferring the holding of local government elections.
“Local government elections enhance the quality of democracy and an indication of good governance at the municipal level. Furthermore, elected local government leaders must work closely with central government irrespective of political affiliations for the betterment of the ratepayers,” said the CEO.
The response provided by the Honourable Minister of Local Government, Housing and Environment that time is needed to review the Local Government Act is mediocre. Since October 2014, a number of Bills have been endorsed in Parliament and dozens of Acts have been reviewed without delay despite having a lack of robust debate on few of these legislations. CCF strongly believes that the local government elections should have been a major priority for government following the 2014 General Elections in the interest of democracy and good governance at municipal level.
“Failure to have local government elections prior to the General Elections in 2018 will be an abdication of the Hon. Minister’s promise he made in September 2014. Local government leadership is a good stepping-stone for future national leaders whereby they practice transparency, accountability, and efficiency in public service,” said Mr Mataitawakilai.