Tuesday 16 June 2020 – The Minister for Local Government, Hon. Premila Kumar visited Municipal Councils in the Northern and Western divisions last week.
During the visits, Hon. Kumar met with teams of Special Administrators of the various Municipal Councils, ratepayers, market vendors, taxi operators, business communities.
Whilst addressing the Special Administrators, Hon. Kumar emphasised the importance of maintaining a good relationship with ratepayers and providing the efficient services.
“Our rate payers are our customers and it is the responsibility of every Municipal Council to ensure they are proud of their towns and cities,” said the Minister.
Hon. Kumar added that in order to successfully undertake this exercise, it was important for the Council to regularly conduct consultations with all stakeholders.
“Before we implement or change a policy, develop a new infrastructure or relocate any existing structure, it is crucial that we consult our stakeholders. Having everyone informed and on the same page from the very beginning is important. I therefore encourage every Municipal Council to conduct regular consultations with their stakeholders,” said Hon. Kumar.
In addressing Municipal Council Chief Executives, the Minister elaborated the need for each Council to carry out a rate profiling exercise; to recover their rate arrears and importantly to ensure their Annual Reports are compiled and submitted in a timely manner.
Whilst in Labasa, Hon. Kumar met with market vendors who raised issues concerning the allocation of market stalls; problems faced by vendors selling from the market footpaths and other difficulties faced by vendors at the market. In responding to the issues raised, the Minister emphasised the importance of working together and adhering to the market regulations.
“It’s important that the Council and the market vendors work together to avoid such problems. If everyone adheres to the Regulations then, there won’t be any problem at all,” said Hon. Kumar.
The meeting was followed by a site visit to the market and the fish market.
Hon. Kumar also met with the business community, market vendors, taxi operators and rate payers in Nadi and Lautoka.
In addressing the issues raised by the stakeholders, the Minister assured them that the Council would do its best to assist them and at the same time, facilitate their request on issues that are not directly related to the Council such as road routes and traffic congestion.
In Lautoka, the Minister met with market vendors and the business community. Some issues raised were to change the market hours on Fridays and Saturdays from 7am to 7pm.
In response, Hon. Kumar said she was happy to change the market hours for Friday and Saturdays with the idea to open the markets on Sundays as well. She suggested that fish vendors should operate on Sundays, which is a day when people take out time from their busy schedules during the week and shop at their leisure.
In addressing issues raised by market vendors and business people in Sigatoka, the Minister requested those present to work closely with the Sigatoka Town Council. Hon. Kumar further stated that there were plans to develop Sigatoka town.
“There are plans to further develop Sigatoka town and I ask you to be patient and bear with us. We’re also working on the Market Regulations, which once completed will be implemented by all Municipal Councils around the country,” said Hon. Kumar.
The review of the existing Market Regulations will enable the Ministry to understand and fix any flaws in the processes of market operations around Fiji. The objective is to design consistent Market Regulations for the 13 Municipal Councils to replace all Market By-Laws for the Councils.
The Minister also visited sites earmarked by Sigatoka Town Council for further development.
Hon. Kumar added that she would be visiting all Municipal Councils as and when required to ensure that plans are executed and projects are completed on time. She also said that the Permanent Secretary for Local Government would ensure that the work of the Municipal Councils are facilitated.