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Local Government Ministry responds to allegations of water board corruption

On Monday, we reported on the concerns of Stann Creek West Representative, Rodwell Ferguson.

On Monday, we reported on the concerns of Stann Creek West Representative, Rodwell Ferguson. Ferguson complained that the local Minister of State, Doctor Carla Barnett, was attempting to appoint UDP-recommended persons for water boards in villages that elected PUP representatives. The Ministry of Local Government responded to these accusations yesterday via a press release. According to them, all village water boards are being set up with consultation as required by the Village Council Act. The release states that, quote, “The Ministry informed that the process of appointment of water boards was commencing.  This was accompanied by individual letters to all the persons with whom the Village Council Act requires that consultations be undertaken. This indicates the start of the selection and appointment process of water boards and highlights the requirements of the law. While public notification is not normal practice, the Ministry opted to do so to ensure that all interested stakeholders would be aware that the appointment process for the 107 village water boards would begin.” End quote. They continued to state that some area representatives from both the UDP and PUP have made suggestions of persons they wish to have appointed to the various water boards, and that there are also some villages for which recommendations have not been submitted. The Ministry is reviewing the suggestions received and identifying persons for consideration. To specifically respond to Ferguson, the Ministry states that they wrote to him and the village council chairpersons in August to indicate that the process was starting. They later wrote to him again to indicate that the suggestions for persons they received were under review. The Ministry claims as well that Ferguson sent a letter to the them complaining about the proposed appointees and then went to the media before they had a chance to respond to him. The release ends by noting that the law does not require the Minister to appoint the persons that are recommended by the area representatives or village councils, and that they are in compliance with the law.