Wednesday 30 September 2020: The Minister for Local Government Hon. Premila Kumar whilst opening the monthly Municipal Council Chief Executives Forum, thanked the CEOs for choosing to take on the leadership role in the local Government.
“I thank you for your commitment to taking on a leadership role in local Government. Local Government is an extremely important arm of government and we must never underestimate its significance in the national life of Fiji and for local communities.”
“In Local Government, the services you offer are making a practical difference to the daily lives of our ratepayers. These services are waste collection; building and development approvals, provision of public transport spaces and parking, health inspection on food outlets, opportunities for marketing and SME development, access to parks and recreation. The look and feel of our cities and towns is your responsibility,” said Hon. Kumar
The Minister added that bringing about reforms was important and the reforms must be focused on good governance, ethical leadership and customer service. Good governance means transparency, accountability and ethical behaviors and it underpins everything we do.
“At this stage of our ongoing reform journey we are not slowing down. In fact I am continually speaking with the team of Special Administrators, informing them that this will only get harder. We are faced with a two edge sword. We have less revenue and more demands on our funds,” Hon. Kumar stated.
The Minister further stated that ratepayers are expecting more and local governments need to increasingly operate using a business-like approach and at the same time, be proactive and indulge in constructive complaints handling.
Hon. Kumar also reiterated how the Ministry of Local Government is planning to implement the Greater Suva Waste Management Service where Lami, Suva, Nasinu and Nausori Councils will have their waste collection services provided by a jointly owned company of all Central Councils. This arrangement will be under Section 88 of the Local Government Act 1972.
The Minister further acknowledged the CEOs for organizing local activities and beautification works to celebrate FIJI50 in the weeks leading up to and organising festivity like market day on 10th October.
The monthly Forum is important as it ensures the CEOs are all properly briefed and contribute to the latest policy changes and reforms planned for municipal councils. Topics on the agenda included a workshop on the final draft of the new Council HR and Finance Manual and the reforms in Town and Country Planning where new processes are in place to ensure that all major Building Approvals are fast tracked.
The Forum allows the Heads of the Organisations to share concerns and challenges as well as good practices.