- Robert Persaud
Guyana Chronicle
December 7, 2003

Related Links: Articles on 'Constructive Engagement'
Letters Menu Archival Menu

MOMENTS after it was reported in the media that an East Coast of

Demerara minibus driver was killed during a robbery attempt on the Buxton Public Road last Monday evening, I received a telephone call from a member of the public who takes a keen interest in local politics.

The person’s comment to me was:

“I saw it coming.” In a reflex way, I probed: “What did you see

coming?” The person responded: “Don’t you expect that after the PNCR attacks on the ongoing Constructive Engagement process, there would be strikes by extremists to rekindle the crime wave?”

Motives of the PNCR for attacking the constructive engagement process abound. This I referred to last week. The discrediting of the process started about two months ago by PNCR talk-show hosts on Channel Nine.

Then it was clear that the intention was to sow distrust and suspicions in the minds of PNCR supporters and members about the Constructive Engagement process.

Then in a matter of days, the PNCR weekly media conferences began to attack the engagement by accusing the Government of lack of commitment and not honouring agreements in the May 6 Communiqué and the Follow-up Agreement of July 15. However, no evidence was provided to substantiate those claims.

Why? There was none. The entire PNCR, including its tele-activists, knew from its Leader and High Representatives that much progress was being made to implement the menu of agreements.

Soon after, like another scene in a play, the PNC Leader fired off a letter to the President. The contents formed the basis of his press statement, in which he inferred that not much progress was being made and accused the Government of stalling the Constructive Engagement process.

The Prime Minister’s comprehensive response, on behalf of the President, set the record straight. It flatly rejected the PNCR and its Leader’s false assertions. The PNCR was stumped by this response. The PNCR and Mr. Corbin are yet to offer any plausible response to the exposure of their distortions and misrepresentations. President Jagdeo has, subsequently made his assessment of the constructive engagement process, observing that about 75 per cent of the areas of agreement has been implemented. The Government has also published the PNCR’s own matrix of implementation provided to the donor community which detailed progress in every area. As usual, the PNCR seems unmoved and continues to use its access to the media to misrepresent the Constructive Engagement process.

But what then is the objective of the PNCR renewed attacks on an Improved political climate in Guyana? Is this a replay of the 2001-2002
President Jadgeo-Mr. Hoyte dialogue?

It will be recalled that when that dialogue process was proceeding smoothly, the PNCR and its late Leader started a similar disinformation campaign.

They falsely fed their supporters with the propaganda that agreements were not being honoured. The Government in response published a whole page advertisement disclosing every area of progress and even offered to pay for a PNCR advertisement so that it too can put to the Guyanese public its own assessment. This offer was never accepted!

Congress Place seemed bent then on breaking up that dialogue and
creating political tensions in our society. What followed was a deadly crime spree never before witnessed in our country. Few doubt that the intellectual authors were without a political agenda. Known PNCR activists were accused of direct involvement. And in the middle of that crime spree, the PNCR tabled a paper on power sharing: a plan for it to take a part of Government.

The authors had hoped that this unworkable and chaos-ridden plan would have resonated with a crime-fatigued populace. This did not happen!

The inevitable question is: Are the current attempts to ambush the Constructive Engagement process another bid to force the issue of power sharing on the agenda?

The improved political environment is perhaps worrying the PNCR. Last weekend, a leading voice in Congress Place gave a sneak preview of that party’s strategy: the Constructive Engagement must address shared governance or else. Within 72 hours of that public disclosure, a Buxton gunman killed a mini-bus driver during a robbery attempt.

Some sections of the PNCR leadership and certainly its general membership do not hope for a replay of the dialogue breakdown of 2002 and the subsequent crime and violence in our society. Many in the PNCR want an improved political situation, genuine cooperation and dialogue to take place.

Congress Place should be reminded that the undermining of the constructive engagement process is not going to force the hands of the Government toward surrendering its mandate to govern. While fully supportive of inclusive governance and building on the inclusiveness we have achieved, so far, adjustments to our system of Governance must be derived from positive engagements and genuine trust. Importantly, it must represent the aspirations of the entire population and not the power hungry few.

The PNCR must come with clean hands to the people of Guyana. It must defend the Constructive Engagement process if it is interested in its success.

The PNCR knows that it shares an equal burden of responsibility with the Government for the flourishing of that national effort.

(The author is the Information Liaison to the President and an Executive Committee Member of the PPP)

Update on implementation of Constructive Engagement agreements in the May 6 Communiqué and Follow up Agreement of July 15

Appointment Of Seven New Standing Committees:
All new Standing Committees have been appointed. As a result the Committees of the National Assembly are now:

Previous Select Committees:
Committee of Selection
Public Accounts Committee
Standing Orders Committee
Assembly Committee
Committee of Privileges
New Standing Committees:
* Parliamentary Management Committee
Appointive Committee
Constitutional Reform Committee
Natural Resources Sectoral Committee
Economic Services Sectoral Committee
Foreign Relations Sectoral Committee
Social Services Sectoral Committee

Parliamentary Management Committee:
Resolution No. 16, passed by the National Assembly on 2003 May 2, provided for the establishment of the Parliamentary Management Committee.

The Committee has been appointed and is functioning.

The Four Sectoral Committees:
Resolution No. 19, passed by the National Assembly on 2003 May 15, provided the necessary requirements for the establishment of the four Sectoral Committees.

They are:

Natural Resources
2) Economic Services
3) Foreign Relations
4) Social Services

The four Sectoral Committees have been appointed and started their work. The Prime Minister and Government Ministers have appeared before these committees. Relevant policy documents have been supplied based on request of the Committees.

The Appointive Committee:
Resolution No. 17, passed by the National Assembly on 2003 May 8, provided the necessary requirements for the establishment of this Committee.

The Committee has been appointed and is functioning. It recently

presented its report the National Assembly on nominees to the Public Service Commission.

The Constitutional Reform Committee:
The members of the Constitutional Reform Committee have been appointed.

However, its functioning was delayed pending clarification of its Constitutional mandate to appoint non-Parliamentarians as members. The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed, at their meeting on 2003 September 15, that the Committee would be the responsible authority for interpreting its mandate.

Strengthening The Capacity Of The Parliament Office:
The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that:

• Increased budgetary resources would be required in a timely manner, in 2003, to meet the operational and other needs of the National Assembly and ensure its smooth functioning.

• As a matter of priority, the Parliamentary Management Committee will undertake the on-going review of the capacity of the Parliament Office to discharge its functional responsibilities to the National Assembly Increasing the Administrative Capacity of the Parliament Office:

The Organisation Chart and staffing levels for the Parliament Office has already been agreed. Recruitment has started. However, further recruitment must await the availability of suitable accommodation at the Public Building.

The Provision of Research and Documentation Support for the Work of the Committees:

IT Requirements:
The TOR for the Needs Assessment has been agreed with the UNDP.

Therefore, the IT Expert will be immediately engaged to determine the equipment and other needs for the Office of the National Assembly.

Documentation and Information Services:

The technical needs for the establishment of modern Documentation and Information services will be identified by the Needs Assessment.

Documentation and Information Staff:
Recruitment has been initiated.

Professional Research Staff:
The Job Descriptions for the Research Co-ordinator and the Professional Researchers are to be provided shortly by the Representatives of the Leader of the Opposition.

Remuneration for MPs and Administrative and Logistical Support for Regional MPs:
The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that the impact of the proposals made should be examined before a final decision could be made.

Physical Facilities Within the Public Building:
The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed the need to enhance the physical facilities at the Public Building to support the work of the Committees and the National Assembly as a whole. The PMC agreed plans for the physical modification/ renovation of the Public Building for submission to the Office of the President.

The Public Utilities Commission has been relocated.

Establishment of the Ethnic Relations Commission:
The Seven (7) members and seven (7) alternate members took the Oath of Office and were thereby appointed. The President and the Leader of the Opposition agreed that, in the interim, the Ethnic Relations Commission should begin its work without the presence of the four (4) non-voting members from the Rights Commissions. The Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill and Mr. Normal Mc Lean, respectively, were elected at the first meeting on, August 26, 2003. The Bidco building at the corner of Peter Rose and Anira Streets will house the Ethnic Relations Commission.

The Appointment of the Public Procurement Commission:
Both Parties have submitted the names of five Nominees each with their Curriculum Vitae to the Public Accounts Committee for the evaluation and selection of the five suitably qualified persons to be recommended to the National Assembly for appointment by the President. The PAC was deadlocked due to differences over the approach to be used for the selection of the five Nominees.

Appointment of the Chairperson for the Human Rights Commission:
The Leader of the Opposition responded stating that no nominee could be found due to the level of remuneration. Equally also, the Human Rights Commission has to await the appointment of three Chairpersons from the other Rights Commissions.

The Appointment of the Commissions for Women and Gender Equity, Indigenous Peoples and the Rights of the Child:
The Appointive Committee has advanced its work on implementing the constitutionally mandated consultative process for the appointment of the members of these Commissions.

Appointment of the Members of the Constitutional Service Commissions:
The Appointive Committee has already submitted its nominees for the Judicial Service Commission. It should be noted that the Chairman of the Public Service Commission is constitutionally a member of the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission. The Appointive Committee has submitted the nominees for the Public Service and Police Service Commissions to be appointed by the President. The President is awaiting the Leader of the Opposition response to proposals on addressing the Constitutional provisions dealing with the Police Service Commission. The members of the Teaching Service Commission still remain to be appointed, pending meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

Remuneration of members of the Constitutional Commission:
It was agreed that the levels of remuneration for Commissioners for the Constitutional Rights Commissions would be similar to those for members of the Constitutional Service Commissions.

National Policy on Land and House lots Distribution: The PNCR is yet to submit its assessment of the State Paper laid in the National Assembly by the Minister of Housing and Water.

Local Government Reform: The Joint Committee Report is to be examined.

Depressed Communities Needs: The President and the Leader of the Opposition have agreed the projects to be implemented in Regions 6 and 10.

Radio Monopoly and Non Partisan Boards:
Heads of all Boards have been informed of the reconstitution of State Boards. Guyana National Newspapers Limited Board has been appointed.

When the GBC/GTV merger is completed, a new board will be appointed for the impending merged entity.

Government awaiting PNCR comments on the draft Broadcasting Bill 2003 following the first meeting to reconcile the Opposition’s concerns.

The representatives of the President and the Leader of the Opposition are discussing proposals for giving effect to the commitment for Equitable Access by Political Parties (as distinct from Government) to the State Media.

Border and National Security Issues including the Recapitalisation of the GDF:
The Joint Committee’s Report was edited and tabled in the National Assembly, on Thursday 2003 July 5. It was agreed that the Government will implement the recommendations accepted by the National Assembly and the Foreign Relations Sector Committee would monitor Government’s implementation.

Establishment of the Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Development Programme for Region #10: The final Report of the Government’s projects and programmes being executed in Region 10 was submitted by Friday 2003 September 19.A Joint Team to examine the document to determine whether it represents a comprehensive Development Programme for Region 10.

Appointment of PPP/C and PNCR Nominees to State Boards, Commissions and Committees:

A list of all Boards, Committees and Commissions was sent to the PPP/C and PNCR.

Appointment of the Disciplined Forces Commission:
The Disciplined Forces Commission is established. The DFC presented its interim report to the National Assembly on Monday, December 1, 2003.

Agreements for the Electricity Sector: The Government of Guyana has tabled agreements in the National Assembly.

Establishment of Office of the Leader of the Opposition: The modalities for the establishment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition were determined

Dissolution of Linden Town Council

-Appointment of an Interim Management Committee

New Interim Management Committee appointed on November 28