Generating revenue | Minister urges councils to step up, says they have become lazy

Minister for Economic Prof. Biman Prasad meets with stakeholders after the budget consultation at Nadi Civic Centre. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Municipal councils have become lazy in generating revenue, says Minister of Finance Professor Biman Prasad.

While speaking at a national budget consultation in Nadi, Prof Prasad said councils would soon be given back their local government status to run their own cities and towns.

“One of the things that has happened is everything has been centralised,” he said.

“The town councils were abolished. The system became corrupt.

“The whole system did not work because people at the local level were not being serviced properly.

“In the past, whatever pitfalls that you might have had with elected councillors were addressed because they were accountable to the people that elected them.

“This is the same as the Sugar Cane Growers Council.

“The growers are suffering because they did not have their representatives at the sector level, at the mill.

“Things were settled amicably during harvesting season and it was done in time.

“All of that was broken.

“So we want to bring that level of local governance back.”

He said at the moment, the Government was still funding municipal councils.

“A lot of them had become so lazy that they relied on the Government to fund everything.

“Very soon, if we leave it like that, they will ask for Government to fund their CEOs and everything else when the services were supposed to be funded at the local government level.

“I know a lot of people are willing to pay the rate.

“They are good citizens. “It is just that the system did not allow that.

“So the town and city councils will have their own elections and they will collect their fees, rates and charges that they ought to collect to provide the services of those towns and cities.”

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