Police’s Communications Unit under spotlight in National Assembly

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Shadow Home Affairs Minister issues plethora of questions about Unit’s operations

The new Corporate Communications Unit (CCU) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is now under the spotlight after a plethora of questions about its operations were raised and submitted by Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Geeta Chandan-Edmond, to the National Assembly.

Chandan-Edmond, who is a representative of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)/ Alliance For Change (AFC) Opposition has asked Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, to provide an explanation about the rationale of establishing a new unit to manage the Force’s communication and public relations.

In February, this year, well-known Radio Broadcaster, Stan Gouveia had announced his appointment as Deputy Communications Director of the GPF while former Editor of INews Guyana who had also served as the Editor-in-Chief of the State-owned Guyana Chronicle Newspapers, Mark Ramotar, was given the role of Director of the CCU.

Both Ramotar and Gouveia reportedly assumed their roles at the GPF’s CCU effective February 1, 2021.

Before their appointments, the standard practice by the GPF was that a serving member of the Force would assume responsibility for the organisation’s public relations and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Royston Andries-Junor, had served as the Public Relations Officer (PRO).

Prior to this, that position as the GPF’s PRO was held by Senior Superintendent, Jairam Ramlakhan.

In her submission to the National Assembly, Chandan-Edmond questioned Minister Benn as to whether the recently established CCU was created in accordance with the Standing Orders of the GPF and if yes, then could the Minister indicate which Section was amended.

However, if no, she asked the Minister to state under which authority was the Unit established.

Minister Benn was also asked to disclose whether the positions of Director and Deputy Director were advertised and what criteria was used in arriving at suitable candidates as Chandan-Edmond further requested that copies of the terms of the contracts for the appointments of the Director and Deputy Director of the CCU be made public.

She also asked the Home Affairs Minister to disclose their qualifications, duties, and responsibilities and state if other allowances and benefits are afforded to the Director and Deputy Director, which are not included in their contracts.

Additionally, Chandan-Edmond questioned whether additional costs are attached to the services rendered by the Director and Deputy Director “for which the Government of Guyana and, by extension, taxpayers are responsible” and if the Home Affairs Minister could state whether the roles of these new employees overlap those of Police officers who have been trained and assigned to perform these tasks.

Zeroing in on the fact that both Ramotar and Gouveia were civilians when granted those positions at the CCU, Chandan-Edmond inquired whether other civilians are presently attached to the Unit.
“If yes, what are their qualifications, salaries, and allowances. Further, were these positions advertised and what criteria used in selecting these individuals?”

She also asked whether Police officers operate within the Unit, and if yes, for the Minister to disclose how many, and in addition, requested that the Minister state the number of staff assigned to the CCU.

Minister Benn is expected to make his answers available in writing at the next sitting of the National Assembly.

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