The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform will be breaking new ground when it gets started. The Constitution vests it with the authority to co-opt experts or enlist the aid of other persons of appropriate expertise who are not members of the National Assembly.
Last week, the Parliamen-tary Committee of Selection approved the nomination of Attorney-General Doodnauth Singh SC, Ministers Reepu Daman Persaud, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, Clement Rohee, Ronald Gajraj, and former Attorney-General Bernard De Santos SC, Vincent Alexander, Deborah Backer, Deryck Bernard, Raphael Trotman and Ravi Dev.
Its functions are to continually review the effectiveness of the workings of the constitution and make periodic reports to the National Assembly, with proposals for reform, as necessary.
It is to this body that the government proposal to increase the number of non-elected ministers from four to ten is to be referred. This proposal is being made in a bid to break the deadlock over the composition of parliamentary sector committees.
Among the specific tasks of the reform committee, according to article 38H of the constitution is the monitoring of the guide developed and approved by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to determine its effectiveness in the implementation of a successful and effective consultation process for an inclusionary democracy. The guide will have the force of law and will have to be observed in national decision-making.
The Committee of Appointments undertakes the consultation process on behalf of the National Assembly.
Article 232(1) provides that the person or entity responsible for seeking consultations 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 the consultation; (b) ensure that each person or entity to be consulted is afforded a reasonable opportunity to express a considered opinion on the subject of the consultation; and (c) cause to be prepared and archived a written record of the consultation and circulate the decision to each of the persons or entities consulted.
The constitution now provides for the President to consult with the Leader of the Opposition on a number of appointments including that of Commissioner of Police, the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice. He is also required to consult with the Leader of the Opposition on the appointed members of the Judicial Service Commission, one of whom but not more than two has/have been nominated by the National Assembly after it has consulted with the Guyana Bar Association.
With regard to the Public Service Commissions he must consult on the appointed members including those nominated by the National Assembly after consultation with the Guyana Public Service Union or any other body as appears to it to represent public officers or classes of public officers.
In the case of the Teaching Service Commission, the President must consult with the Leader of the Opposition on three of its appointed members.
In relation to the Police Service Commission, the President must consult with the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment of its chairman, the four members nominated by the National Assembly after consultation with the relevant police associations; and the appointment of the not more than three members described by article 210(1)(d) as appointed members. (Patrick Denny)