Local council reform - David Pisani

Times of Malta, 6/10/08



Żminijietna - Voice of the Left is of the opinion that the reform of Malta's local councils should lead to the democratisation of democracy, whereby councils are closer to residents' aspirations and councils have more voice in national politics.
We believe that funding for local councils should be more realistic to councils' needs and councils should have more autonomy and accountability in expenditure and revenue programmes. Councils should be more democratic and engage in public consultation over major decisions while council feedback should have more weight when consulted by state authorities. Councils should be more accessible to the public through projects in partnership with community organisations; NGOs and residents.
We also believe that voluntary work in various areas should be encouraged by local councils through the establishment of subcommittees. Councils should have more authority in the enactment of bye-laws. Council legislature should be longer than the current three-year term.

Public sector workers whose employment is no longer required can be engaged by local councils to carry out administrative, technical and other productive jobs. Local council tenders should include proper environmental and social conditions such as workers' rights and green procurement. Local councils should have more authority on usage of public land for various forms of activities, programmes and initiatives.
All councillors should be financially compensated. However, local council reform should not include a full-time wage for mayors as this can result in disproportionate powers for mayors over councillors and executive staff, thus resulting in a democratic deficit. We also encourage the government to lower the voting age limit for council elections to 16 years.

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