E-version of updated laws almost ready
NDI provided funding
Stabroek News
August 6, 2002

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For around US$15,000 ($3M), an updated set of the Laws of Guyana will shortly be available in electronic form to the country’s lawyers and judges.

Funding for this venture was provided by the US-based National Democratic Institute for international affairs.

Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh SC told Stabroek News yesterday that the updated Laws of Guyana on “read only” compact disks would be available in another few weeks.

According to the Attorney General, after the Government terminated the controversial US$220,500 contract with Queens, New York-based New Global Consults Inc, he approached the NDI for assistance in undertaking the project.

However, the Attorney General expressed concern that unauthorised copies of the disk could be made as had happened with a copy he had been given. NDI’s country director, Michael Murphy yesterday assured Stabroek News that the disks to be finally made available would be encrypted with a special security feature to prevent them from being copied. He added that the Guyana government would own the copyright to the updated laws.

Murphy disclosed that the technical expertise for the project was sourced in Guyana and that the production of the laws in electronic form is the most cost-effective way of making them available.

He added that most of the time was taken up by the staff in the Attorney General’s Chambers getting the laws together.

With reference to making the laws available in bound volumes, the Attorney General pointed out that few lawyers ever used all the volumes. He said that by providing the laws in electronic form the lawyers and judges could refer to the sections they need and to print them if required.

Under the cancelled contract, New Global Consults Inc was to provide 300 ten-volume sets of the Laws of Guyana, provide them on 300 compact disks and establish a website on which the laws would be posted.

The contract was signed on March 17, 2001 - two days before general elections - but not made public until May. When it was publicised, the operators in the local information technology sector complained that they had not been invited to bid and subsequent investigations by Stabroek News discovered that the contract was sole-sourced. It was also discovered that the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) should have funded the contract but did not do so as the government did not obtain its approval to sole-source the contract.

In the end, the money for the contract was to be provided by the Treasury though nothing was paid to New Global Consults.

The government flayed the Permanent Secretary in the Legal Affairs Ministry, Ganga Persaud for not obtaining the necessary approval from the IDB and for committing to expenditure that was not approved by Cabinet. For these breaches, Persaud was surcharged $500,000 for breaching the financial regulations. (Patrick Denny)