CONSULTATIONS MUST SATISFY LEGAL REQUIREMENTS- OPPOSITION

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Please see full press release-

The Opposition insists and demands that it expects that the consultation must be in strict compliance with the Letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Article 232 of the Constitution provides on “consultation” or “meaningful consultation” that it was incumbent on the person or entity responsible for seeking consultation to: “(a) Identify the persons or entities to be consulted and specify to them in writing the subject of the consultation and an intended date for the decision on the subject of consultation;
The Constitution contemplates, by its definition of “consultation” and meaningful consultation,” that there will be full, effective and genuine consultation as opposed to formal and unproductive engagements.
Article 232 (b) of the Constitution also requires that adequate time and information be given for the Party being consulted to respond. The Party providing the information is also required to provide all the material and the grounds on which the specific recommendations were made.
Adequate time to respond on the subject matter of the Consultation is essential as the Party being consulted be allowed to take such steps as may be appropriate and requisite in order to be prepared to tender effective and meaningful advice and to ensure meaningful consultation.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey C. Norton, MP, received a Letter dated the 29th day of April, 2022, under the hand of Ms. Gail Teixeira, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, inviting him to a meeting with the President to consult on several Constitutional appointments on Friday, the 13th day of May, 2022, at the Office of the President.
The Leader of the Opposition responded to the aforementioned Letter, by a Letter dated the 9th day of May, 2022, in which he indicated that he stood ready to fulfill the Constitutional responsibilities of the Leader of the Opposition. In the said Letter, the
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Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the Letter of the 29th day of April, 2022, was vague and did not provide any information relating to the Constitutional appointments which would be addressed.
A Letter dated the 11th day of May, 2022, was received under the hand of Ms. Gail Teixeira, in which for the first time, the specific Constitutional and Statutory Commissions in respect of which the proposed Consultations were to be held were identified.
The Letter dated the 11th day of May, 2022, merely listed the Integrity Commission, Judicial Service Commission, Police Service Commission and persons proposed by the President to be appointed to the Teaching Service Commission.
The Leader of the Opposition in a Letter dated the 12th day of May, 2022, whilst restating his commitment to discharge his Constitutional obligations and particularly, to engage in consultations as required by law, felt compelled to underscore that the Letter dated the 11th day of May, 2022, from Ms. Gail Teixeira, was bereft of any material upon which he would form an opinion on the subjects of the proposed consultation.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the communication received to date from Ms. Gail Teixeira, in respect of the proposed consultation were all vague, woefully inadequate and insufficient to significantly advance the consultative process envisioned and provided for in the relevant Constitutional and statutory provisions. Further, the Leader of the Opposition concluded that the communication from Mr. Gail Teixeira did not contribute to him being afforded a reasonable opportunity to effectively participate in the proposed consultation process.
On the 12th day of May, 2022, the President agreed to provide further information, that is, the Curriculum Vitae of the persons being recommended by the President to be appointed to the Commissions.
To date, the material and grounds on which the recommendations of persons for appointments to the Constitutional and Statutory Commissions remain with the President. Hence, the consultation process has not been in accordance with the requirements of Meaningful Consultation.
OPPOSITION CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE ELECTORAL REFORM WITHIN A GENUINE NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
The PPP must now face the reality that the nation has rejected both its amendments to RoPA and its so-called public consultations on electoral reform. This rejection is informed by the fact that the PPP’s approach is piecemeal, deceitful, and self-serving. As such, the PPP totally fails to address key systemic and structural flaws and weaknesses in our electoral system. It totally avoids any consideration of major constitutional, statutory, administrative, operational, and technological reforms. In fact, the PPP’s approach seems more likely to make free, fair, and uncontested elections in Guyana more elusive. For the sake of the country, we can and must do better! We need all
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stakeholders to participate and be satisfied that we have improved the system and prepare the basis for free and fair elections.
For the Opposition, local, regional, and national elections must meet three objectives: (i) only eligible persons must be registered, (ii) results must accurately reflect the will of those who voted, and (iii) every step of the election process (viz., registration; production of voters’ lists; voting and counting; and tabulation and declaration of results) must win the trust and confidence of the public, participating parties, and other relevant stakeholders. Meeting these three objectives requires that Guyana must embark on URGENT AND COMPREHENSIVE ELECTORAL REFORM. Tinkering will not work. Disjointed changes will not work. Bad faith will not work.
Additionally, the PNCR maintains that comprehensive electoral reform must rest on four pillars:

  1. A thorough review by GECOM of its performance in managing recent elections. The plethora of faults and irregularities (intended and unintended) in the 2020 elections alone must not be brushed under the carpet to resurface again. They must be swept out for good. To achieve this, a thorough and honest review must be conducted as a necessary first step. Here, we agree with GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander that GECOM itself must not conduct such a review but should commission it.
  2. National consultations, involving the public, civil society, and the parliamentary political parties. These must be modelled after the 1999/2000 Constitution Reform Commission process. In particular, key elements must include: a multi-stakeholder/expert committee, a consensus chairperson, a public call for oral and written submissions, and several national conversations (open forums).
  3. The in-depth involvement of experts on electoral laws, electoral systems, elections technologies, and elections management. We anticipate no difficulty in recruiting such expertise, given the international support for electoral reform in Guyana.
  4. Holistic constitutional and legislative amendments or enactments. The Opposition anticipates that electoral reform will require both constitutional and statutory amendments. We stand ready to lend parliamentary support to all agreed-to changes.
    Time is of essence in initiating and completing these reforms to prevent extended postponement of local government elections. Once the PPP government demonstrates good faith, the financial, human, and other resources can be readily mobilized. Once all parties put Guyana first, delays can be minimized. Guyana deserves no less.
    So convinced, the APNUAFC intends to formally raise with President Ali that the country needs to urgently undertake comprehensive electoral reform within a genuine national consultation process. My party will not support the autocratic imposition of changes to our electoral system. Accordingly, we reject the present PPP-led so-called national consultation on RoPA.
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GWI’S WITCH HUNT OF STAFF PERCEIVED TO BE ALIGNED TO THE APNU+AFC
It is unbelievable to even imagine that the head of a government agency had the nerve to sit at a press conference and boastfully speak of the dismissal of over 300 staff members. The CEO of GWI declared that the dismissals will save the company some GY $240 million. This is hogwash.
Guyanese are well aware that under the coalition government with the very 300 plus staff members water service provided had drastically improved. The residents received quality level of service which included 24hrs water service and many communities received potable water for the first time. Hence, GWI’s actions could only be seen as acts of victimization, discrimination and incompetence.
The GWI management in May and June, 2021 went after staff perceived to be aligned to the APNU+AFC coalition and fired some 76 staff workers after making their positions redundant so as to achieve their witch-hunting mandate. This is evident in the case of Regions 5 and 10 where the same positions that were made redundant are still operational and fully staffed in Regions 3, 6, and Georgetown. This is evidence that it is a witch-hunt. How can you say their positions are redundant and reemploy persons in the same positions? Clearly it is vindictiveness, political and ethnic discrimination.
Guyana Water Inc.’s unfair and racially motivated dismissals continued with the forcing of senior technical and managerial staff to either resign or be demoted. This is a clear case with the recent dismissal of the company’s IT Director, the reassignment and demotion of the Programme Planning, Design and Implementation Director and the Head of Water Quality among many others who were forced to resign.
The Parliamentary Opposition calls on Guyana Water Inc. to immediately disclose the list of all those who were fired, retired, resigned, and hired from August 2020 to present. The question must be asked, therefore, how many were really fired and how many resigned out of the 322 staff reduction, or is it that the company had an 18.6% retirement age staff compliment which all conveniently retired in just over a year’s period?
The very CEO who is now touting financial stability because he sacked at the stroke of a pen hundreds of public servants, has hired since taking office, a number of staff including former embattled Finance Director and other management staff earning salaries in the range of $420,000 to $500,080 and more, along with duty allowances and commuted vehicle allowances all of which are tax-free. Clearly, it was not an oversized staff; it is vindictiveness, political and ethnic discrimination.
However, while Shiek Baksh and Elvis Jordon justified the need for the dismissal of the 157 employees in the year 2021, they defended GWI’s decision to rehire the Financial Director, Jaigopaul Ram, who was fired in 2018 over financial irregularities.
The Parliamentary Opposition rubbishes the CEO’s boast of financial stability since under his management the company lost 30 million dollars from a GWI account by a
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fraud perpetrated at a commercial bank and funds transferred to a New York Bank Account and address in March 2021.
The Parliamentary Opposition calls on GWI and SOCU to make the findings of that investigation public. We demand that the CEO disclose if the $240 million dollars financial stability that he boasted about includes the $30 million lost through fraud.

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