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(SNO) – Local Government Minister Senator Fortuna Belrose has dismissed claims that her ministry and the Castries Constituencies Council (CCC) are at odds over an ongoing review of the operations of the council.
She also scoffed at claims that she and Castries City Mayor Peterson Francis are sparring over the appointment of a chief executive officer (CEO) for the CCC.
Belrose, at yesterday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing, told reporters that the review of the CCC, and that of other councils in the country, is being done because government is committed to the whole process of reform.
She said that such a review is done after every two-year stint of a Board of Directors selected to run a town or village council. With respect to the CCC, of which Francis is mayor, that two-year stint ended this month hence the reason for the review.
“Over the last two years we have had a number of councils….most of them were appointed between July and August 2016, so the time is really now for the review. We have conducted reviews across the country. The city councils reviews are still ongoing, it finishes at the end of April and for us it’s all about looking at local government, looking at the systems, looking at the procedures and trying to ensure that the delivery of the local government services actually met the expectations of the citizens in the various communities,” Belrose said.
The senator however confirmed that the review of the CCC will be completed end of this month. She actually expects a report of that review to be in her hands sometime next week.
“All the constituency councils are guided by the local government’s Constituency Councils Act No 1 of 2012 and so that is what we used to work with our councils, but the focus was merely on looking at the leadership, looking at the arrangement that the various councils have made across the country and trying to determine if there are best lessons that we can learn as we look to strengthen the capacities of the councils across the country,” Belrose said.
Regarding the alleged contention widely reported in local media and on various social media platforms, between Belrose and Francis over the appointed of CEO for the CCC, Belrose said that this was all in the minds of people.
“The contention between me and the mayor over the appointment of a CEO is in you all minds and heads. It is not in mine or the mayor’s,” Belrose said.
“I think we are very clear on the procedures, and as a minister what I sought to do is to give advice and guidance. My Board is expected to comply and if there is a disagreement they can articulate that quite calmly so there’s no friction. I’ve known the mayor for a number of years. As a government we have a country to run and what we will do is be guided by the dictates of the laws of our land in terms of operating our country,” Belrose added.
Media reports note that the announcement of a review had not gone done well with certain members of the CCC board including Francis. However at a recently held press conference Francis admitted not having any problems with the review.
“I welcome it,” he said at the news conference.