President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition, Robert Corbin are to meet early this week to continue their talks which began last month. High on the agenda is the composition of the Disciplined Services Commission that is to look into the operations of the Police Force.
The meeting should have taken place on Thursday but scheduling difficulties restricted their consultations to the telephone. Stabroek News understands that Corbin has communicated his two nominees in writing to President Jagdeo.
The May 6 communiqué, which they signed, said that the five-member Commission should have begun its work within one month of the Jagdeo/Corbin meeting. Two of the five members of the commission are to be nominated by President Jagdeo and two others nominated by Corbin, with the chairman being appointed after the President has consulted with Corbin.
Among the other matters likely to be discussed are the recent police operations in Buxton about which Corbin had expressed concern about the manner it which they were being conducted and the failure so far to deal with the community in a holistic manner.
Meanwhile other aspects of the communiqué are being implemented while work is yet to start on others. Among the measures already implemented was the government’s policy on land and house lot distribution, which was laid in the National Assembly on Thursday by Housing Minister, Shaik Baksh. This paper had already been submitted to the National Assembly but did not fully meet the guidelines set by the National Assembly. Those guidelines required the government to submit clear, transparent and equitable national criteria for the distribution of land and house lots and to establish an independent mechanism that would among other things investigate complaints about discrimination in the distribution process and provide adequate redress in those cases where discrimination is proven.
Also tabled on Thursday was the sanitised report of the joint committee on border and national security issues by Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Gail Teixeira, and the Public Procurement Bill by Finance Minister Saisnarine Kowlessar. The Public Procurement Commission will review this when it is constituted.
The joint committee on local government reform, co-chaired by Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore and PNCR parliamentarian, Vincent Alexander, has already began working on completing its outstanding tasks including recommendation of an electoral system to be used for future local government elections. Based on the recommendation of the Constitution Reform Com-mission the proposed electoral system has to provide for the participation of individuals and provide for greater accountability by the elected officials to their constituency.
The other tasks include developing a suitable system and appropriate procedures for annual allocation from the central government to the local government organs and determining the terms of reference for an independent, constitutional Local Government Commission.
The committee has been given a three-month timeframe within which to complete its work and both Collymore and Alexander believe the deadline could be met. Once the committee has completed its work, there is a six-month deadline for the legislation to be ready for the National Assembly.
The committee on depressed communities, which has to identify projects for implementation on an emergency basis and for which $60 million is immediately available, is yet to be reconvened. However, Parliamentary Secretary, Philomena Sahoye-Shury who co-chairs the committee told Stabroek News that it would commence meeting shortly.