Chaudhry calls for council elections

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: FT FILE/JOVESA NAISUA

FIJI Labour Party leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry has called on Local Government Minister Premila Kumar to hold municipal council elections as soon as possible.

He said comments made by Mrs Kumar to have a team of special administrators oversee all councils was a ploy to avoid holding municipal council elections in the “foreseeable future”.

Speaking to this newspaper last week, Mrs Kumar said there was a plan to do away with SAs in each city and town and to replace them with a team of administrators who would be professionals, qualified in the areas of financial matters and administration matters, legal matters and business matters.

Mr Chaudhry claimed the plan was flawed.

“But before that, they have to review the Local Government Act and other related legislation — which by the way has been on the review table for the past 12 years,” he said.

“In any case, why can’t the review, if really necessary, be conducted with elected councils in place.

“After all, that would be the democratic, accountable and transparent manner of dealing with legislative matters.”

Mr Chaudhry said for ratepayers the whole issue boiled down to just one thing — accountability and transparency in the management of their municipalities.

“We pay rates, we demand accountability on how our funds are spent and how decisions are taken on development projects within the municipalities.

“This is the democratic premise on which municipalities function everywhere.”

He claimed the SA plan would lead to more corruption, nepotism, less accountability and wastage of ratepayers funds.

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