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If as Guyanese we could accept that whereas we may have our differences but this ought not to hinder our collective respect for laws, rules and acceptable norms, we would stand a better chance of peaceful coexistence and the holistic development of this nation. We don’t have to like an individual or group to respect the person or group. The same holds true for institutions. We may or may not like the institutions or the persons heading those institutions but personal dislike should not prevent us from upholding the tenets of the institutions and holding to account, by the established standards, those who are a part of the institutions.
The issue of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is a non-issue should it be accepted and respected that the rules allow for the Committee to be chaired by an Opposition member, as identified by the Opposition. To make any argument to the contrary and accuse David Patterson of holding up the PAC and by extension the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is ill founded based on the aforesaid. It is not Patterson or the APNU+AFC’s fault the functioning of the PPC could be delayed and the PAC is prevented from discharging its constitutional oversight role. It is the governing PPP/C that does not want to respect the rules and thereby holding up the functioning of the named bodies.
It is the same PPP/C who had Irfaan Ali as PAC head despite having 18 fraud charges against his name. It is instructive that the same people are today seeking to prevent Patterson from functioning, on the pretext that they have no confidence in him and he has charges against him before the court. One, it is not the governing side’s duty to have confidence in Patterson, that duty is reserved for the Opposition who has so expressed confidence in him. Two, it is not for the PPP/C to determine Patterson’s guilt, that duty is reserved for the Court that has not yet handed down a judgment.
The hypocrisy and double standards are glaring. We must recognise them and not cuddle or facilitate them, irrespective of who we like or support. Rules must bear witness and guide governance not gut-feelings and emotional/political or other loyalty. The establishment of the PPC is reliant on a functioning PAC. Both bodies play a very important role in the country’s money management. The question we must therefore ask – Why is the Ali regime putting up artificial roadblocks to hinder the proper functioning of the PAC and PPC? This is the dilemma we must confront and not be submerged by.
It is also noted, based on media reports, that the government has cut the Leader of the Opposition’s budgetary allocation by 60 percent. The Leader of the Opposition is a constitutional office holder and the second premier leader in society, second only to the President. The effort to underfund this office is another effort to undermine the functioning of the office that according to the Constitution of Guyana is tasked with executive and legislative responsibilities.
Good sense must prevail in this society. The political immaturity and race to the bottom to see who could be more silly and vindictive must stop for the good of this nation, its institutions and people. The PAC must be allowed to do its work with Patterson as the head unless otherwise determined by the APNU+AFC not the PPP/C; and the Leader of the Opposition must be given the full budgetary allocation because he has work to do on behalf of this nation.