Motion to uphold Local Government Act defeated
April 3, 2019 9:47 am
The motion to uphold the Local government Act and approve the facilitation of the Municipal Elections by October was defeated in parliament.
Opposition MP Lenora Qereqeretabua moved the motion to provide legitimate and fair representation to the ratepayers and citizens of various municipalities.
She questioned the government why they didn’t want to hold local government elections that will give municipal councils transparency to be held accountable by ratepayers and citizens of each municipality.
“In 2008, the military regime decided to abolish elected municipal councils in all municipalities around the country for reasons best known to it. This decision was effected in 2009. Elected counsels and mayors were replaced by Special Administrators and this has been the practice for more than 10 years and now we see that the Ministry of local government under the Honorable Minister Premila Kumar have decided not to hold elections but further consolidate governments hold on municipalities by appointing a team of Special Administrators to replace single administrators.”
In response, Minister Responsible Premila Kumar says during the municipal elections in 2002, only 37% of the city and town dwellers voted and it reduced further in 2005 where only 31% voted.
She says this is a clear indication of years of corruption and mismanagement led to a loss of confidence in the elected councilors and their abilities to govern municipal councils.
“This was the reason why a change was made and we’ve seen over the years in the last ten years, the amount of investment the government has made towards municipalities which we have never seen before and it’s a clear indication that today municipal councils are in better hands.”
The Minister reiterated that they will look at the review process adding that they’re working on this.
On the review process, the election component comes under the Local Government Act so one cannot just change it as there are other requirements needed to be completed before it’s changed.
Kumar says this can only be done in consultation with Fijians.
The motion was defeated with 27 voting against it, 21 voted for while three did not vote.