Government to review judicial system-- after broad-based consultation

By Alim Hassim
Stabroek News
February 28, 1998

The Government has started the process of seeking funding for a comprehensive review of the judicial system, President Janet Jagan announced on Thursday.

In her address to the National Assembly at its first meeting since the new Government took office, Mrs Jagan disclosed that Government would be entering into "broad consultation" to find the correct method of approaching the matter.

"As soon as we get this phase completed, the Government will seek funding for a comprehensive national project to modernise the system and improve its capacity to fulfil its role in a timely and efficient manner," the President said.

She also disclosed that approximately $150M from lottery proceeds would be used in upgrading areas which fall within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.

"The Government strongly believes that the area of youth, sports and culture is important to our national development efforts. Unfortunately in the past, this area did not attract the attention it deserved," Mrs Jagan told the National Assembly.

She said that those areas could create conditions for a more harmonious society based on understanding and respect. To this end Government had created a separate ministry to handle those affairs.

"And it has been decided that a major portion of the proceeds of the Guyana Lottery will be utilised in the creation and upgrading of sport and other recreational facilities," she said.

Speaking about Government's plan to expand its relations with the outside world, the President said there were many great opportunities for Guyana to pursue a foreign policy which would protect the nation and at the same time bring concrete benefits to the people.

"Our immediate interest is to deepen and widen our relations with CARICOM and play a positive role in integrating our region," she said.

"We will continue our friendly relations with countries of Central and Latin America, especially neighbouring Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname. At the same time, our traditional ties with Great Britain, Canada and the United States and others will be taken to higher levels," she added.

As Guyana interacted with the outside world, she stated, it must create for itself a special place if the country was to make an impact and benefit from what others had to offer.

"In a globalised and liberalised world, Guyana must carefully assess the patterns and processes of world developments," she said.

The Guyanese president stated that while Guyana's entry into the global marketplace had brought gains, there had also been tendencies which could lead to wage levels that were considered inadequate by organised labour, increase in unemployment and poverty, more taxation and higher levels of national indebtedness.

"At the end of the day, these serve to accentuate economic and social insecurity, deepen class distinction and alienate large sections of people from the mainstream of development," Mrs Jagan said.
Considering the specific conditions of Guyana vis-a-vis more prosperous countries, the President said her Government strongly promoted the idea of a Regional Integration Fund which is intended to assist poorly developed countries to benefit equally in the rapidly evolving process of free trade in the hemisphere and the world.

"Guyana must continue to pursue the goals of understanding and cooperation since many of the problems faced by mankind are global in nature and would need a global response," she said.