The opportunity for 16-year-olds to contest for local council elections is being considered along with a number of other proposals for Local Government Reform.
Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Silvio Parnis has launched the Local Government Reform White Paper for public consultation in which a number of proposals to change the current Local Councils Act are being considered. Parnis said that the reform was built on decentralisation, allowing both local and regional councils to have greater autonomy.
The reforms are focusing extensively on improving the quality of life for everyone, leaving no man, woman or child behind. It was also pointed out that there needs to be an increase in both quality and quantity of cultural events, sports and education; as well as the same treatment given to services rendered.
What are the main proposals?
- Regions – will be allocated roles and responsibilities, as well as resources to better aid in their work.
- Social, Educational and Community Sector – initiatives would strengthen a sense of community, therefore local councils must give the best possible service, while supporting and assisting citizens.
- Administrative Committees – shall be dissolved, and their functions reinvested in the respective local councils; a Councillor will be entrusted with the zones.
- Permits – procedures will be simplified and uniformity will be ensured, as well as information technology being used better so that permits could be requested and issued online.
- Mayors – might be limited to a maximum of three terms of office, as well as full-time capacity considered.
- Local Councillor Responsibilities – will be more specifically assigned within the ambit of the local council.
- Increased Youth Participation – will be encouraged with the consideration of allowing 16-year-olds to run for Local Councils.
- Increased Local Citizen Participation – will also be encouraged by inviting them to contribute to the work plan during the first three months of the new council’s legislature.
- Human Resources – will be further invested in, with regional and local councils having more autonomy over who they employ. Meanwhile, employees will have more promotion opportunities as an incentive to perform better.
- Name Change – from ‘Local Councils Act’ to ‘Local Governments Act’ to recognise the importance of the concept of local governance.
- Amendments to the Constitution – will also make the distinction and roles of regional and local councils more reflective of the concept of local government.