For 8 years the FijiFirst government was reviewing the Local Government Act because they did not want the municipal council elections as they were enjoying the direct interference in the councils over the last 16 years.
Those were the words of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad while commenting on the motion to review the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 audit reports on municipal councils.
Professor Prasad says the management of the town and city councils in the last 16 years has resulted in another mess that they are dealing with as the new government.
He says the rate arrears and rental collection is a major issue.
Professor Prasad says the arrears is almost $62.2 million including interest of $2.4 million.
He says majority of the default ratepayers are residential owners and these are people who could afford to pay.
The Deputy Prime Minister says he may not also be off the mark to say that the municipal councils over the years have not managed their funds well nor have they implemented successful rate collections and strategies.
He says no matter how much the FijiFirst tries to justify, when they were in government, they had the worst record of delivering annual reports on time, and the backlog was huge. Professor Prasad says as Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka has stated, the coalition government will have proper municipal council elections.
The last municipal elections was held in 2005.
Professor Prasad says they need to streamline all the processes and bring the services back that the people need in this country as one of the biggest bottlenecks in ease of doing business is the inefficiencies in the municipal councils.
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