WHERE DOES THE POWER OF A COUNCIL START AND THAT OF A GOVERNOR STOP?

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THE CONSTITUTION AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT SHOULD BE THE GUIDE

Section 193 of the Constitution states:

“Local government  administration in The Gambia shall be based on a system of democratically  elected councils with a high degree of local autonomy.”

Section 193(2) further adds among other things,

“An Act of the National Assembly shall make provision for the functions, powers and duties of local government authorities, including provision for-

(a)      the infrastructure and development of the area within the authority’s jurisdiction;

(b)    the encouragement of commercial enterprises;

(c)      the participation of the inhabitants in the development and administration of the area;

(d)    the essential and other services to be provided by the authority;

(e)    the raising of local revenue;…..”

Hence based on this provision, section 48 of the Local Government Act does make provision for the functions of council as follows:

“Subject to the provisions of this Act and any other enactment, a Council shall, within its area of jurisdiction –

(a) Exercise all political and executive powers and functions;

(b) Provide services as it deems fit;

(c) Promote on a sound basis community development and self help;

(d) Have power to perform such functions as deemed necessary to facilitate, or are conducive or incidental to, the discharge of any of its function;

(e) Protect the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia and promote democratic governance; and

(f) Ensure implementation and compliance with Government policy.”

Furthermore, up to forty functions of a council have been listed under Part II of the Second Schedule of the Act.

The Act did provide for the decentralisation and devolution of central government services to councils under section 49 of the Act, which stipulates:

“(1) A Minister responsible for any other Department of State may, after consultation with the Minister, devolve functions, services and powers vested in that Ministry to a Council.

(2) A devolution under subsection (1) of this section shall not be effected unless –

(a) The Government and the Council are in agreement;

(b) Adequate human, financial and material resources are made available for the performance of the functions, provision of the services and the exercise of the power:’), so devolved; and

(c) Appropriate measures are taken to bring the change to the attention of the public.

(3) The services and functions specified under Part I of Schedule II shall be exclusive to the Central Government.”

The Governor has the function of coordinating central government programmes having bearing to such decentralised and devolved services to council. Section 124 states:

“The Governor shall –

(a) Represent the President and the Central Government in the Local Government Area and accordingly, exercise executive powers in the Area, and;

(b) Co-ordinate the administration of Central Government services in the Area;

(c) Advise the Secretary of State on matters of a national nature that may affect the Area or its plans or programmes and particularly the relationship between the Council and the Central Government;

(d) Monitor and inspect the activities, of Local Authorities and, where necessary, advise the Secretary of State; and

(e) Carry out such other functions as may be assigned by the President or prescribed by the National Assembly.”

Hence the functions of the central government and councils are clearly defined and one should not encroach into the other.