Gozitan Mayors and Councillors discuss Local Government Reform

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Gozitan Mayors and Councillors discuss Local Government ReformThe Minister for Gozo Dr Justyne Caruana and Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government and Communities Silvio Parnis, met with with Gozitan Mayors and Councillors to discuss the proposed Local Government Reform White Paper.

Next Friday, the 30th of November, it will be the turn of Gozitan residents to have their say on the reform proposals, in a meeting to be held at the Xewkija Band Club, starting at 6.30pm.

The main proposals of the White Paper, which was launched on the 18th of October are:

The regions

“These would be allocated specific roles and increased responsibilities, as well as the necessary resources to carry out their functions.

The social, educational and community sector

Local councils should offer the best possible service whilst supporting and assisting citizens, particularly in the social and educational spheres. Such initiatives would strengthen the sense of community.

Administrative committees

The functions of the administrative committees will be reinvested in the respective local councils and the respective administrative committees be dissolved.

It is being proposed that a councillor should be entrusted with responsibility for these zones so that their requirements would be taken into account in each local council meeting.

Permits by local councils

Permits issued by local councils for the organisation of activities are regulated by SL 441.04, the Activities requiring Permit by Local Councils Regulations.

These regulations fall under the Trading Licences Act (Cap. 441 of Laws of Malta). Over the years the need to amend these regulations has been felt, particularly with a view to simplifying procedures and ensuring uniformity in the application of the relevant provisions by local councils.

Moreover, it is necessary to make better use of information technology so that permits would be requested and issued online.

The office of the Mayor

The possibility of having mayors serve on a full-time basis should be considered. The possibility of laying down a maximum term of office of three legislatures for the mayor should also be considered.

Local councillor responsibilities

In order for councillors to perform effectively within a local council they should be assigned responsibility for matters falling within the ambit of the local council.

Increased youth participation

The opportunity for youths aged 16 to contest in local elections is also being considered.

Increased local citizen participation

With a view to strengthening and enhancing effective local citizens’ participation in local government operations, it is being proposed that citizens would be invited to contribute to the work plan during the first three months of the new local council legislature.

Strengthening of human resources

Investment in human resources will be required in order for regional councils and local councils to function more efficiently and effectively.

Regional councils and local councils would have to be given greater autonomy with regard to the number of employees they recruit.

Employees should have opportunities for promotion; an incentive to perform better knowing that the quality of their work is being acknowledged.

A name change for the act

It is proposed that the Local Councils Act should be renamed Local Government Act in recognition of the importance given to the concept of local government.

Amendment to the Maltese constitution

In 2001, a new chapter was added to the Maltese constitution, the highest law of the country, which recognises local councils as a form of local government in our country.

It is proposed that this clause be amended in order to reflect the concept of local government which will be composed of two levels – the regional and the local.”

The full White Paper for public consultation, closes on the 30th of November can be found by clicking here.

All comments and suggestions can be sent by e-mail on riforma.localgov@gov.mt or by post on Parliamentary Secretariat for Local Government and Communities, 230, Casa Gaspe, Republic Street, Valletta.

Photographs: MGOZ/Terry Camilleri

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