Frank and Benn must go!

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Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon submits the motion to Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs

…Opposition files no-confidence motion against health, home affairs ministers
…cites rising crime, spiralling COVID–19

Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon has filed two no-confidence motions against Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn for ineffective management of Guyana’s health sector and security sector respectively.

The motions were filed with the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs and were supported by statements from the Opposition Leader, on behalf of his political party, the APNU+AFC. He was joined by several Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs).

According to Harmon, the Health Minister has not efficiently managed Guyana’s COVID-19 crisis and the well-being of citizens has not been made a priority. His motion of no-confidence against Dr. Anthony stated that the Minister of Health persistently demonstrated an inability to effectively undertake his duties in the health sector.

He called for the National Assembly to express a lack of confidence in the Minister of Health and call for his immediate resignation.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

In a subsequent statement, Harmon elaborated: “The management of the spread of COVID-19 has been woeful, there has been questionable procurement of vaccines and confirmed COVID cases and deaths are spiralling out of control. Dr. Anthony must bear direct responsibility for the health care crisis and disaster he has placed Guyana in, imperilling the lives and health and wellbeing of every citizen. The nation has lost confidence in Dr. Anthony and we formally take action on behalf of the people of Guyana today.”

Guyana’s current COVID-19 death toll stands at 478 with 2021 accounting for 314 of the deaths even as a sturdy vaccination campaign continues. Meanwhile, there have been over 20,000 positive cases recorded with Region Four accounting for almost 10,000 of these.

Regarding national security, Harmon’s motion against the Minister of Home Affairs stated that coupled with the health crisis, Guyana’s crime situation is deteriorating. In his motion, the Opposition Leader stated that Minister Benn has also persistently demonstrated his inability to effectively undertake his duties in the security sector and the House should therefore call for his immediate resignation.

Back in June, Benn had told the Committee of Supply that Guyana had experienced a 26 percent reduction in serious crimes, however, the Opposition doubted this and called on Benn to provide data to support his statement.

In a subsequent statement regarding the motion, Harmon said: “Crime in all forms is on an astronomical increase in Guyana. Robberies of various kinds, break and enter, murders, vehicular homicides, violent assaults have enveloped the society. Citizens are living in mortal fear. The PPP has effectively already filed their own tacit No Confidence Motion in Benn having sidelined him in seeking to establish a parallel police force at the regional level. Today we file the formal, official No Confidence Motion against the failure that is Minister Robeson Benn.”

Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon visits the parliament buildings along with Opposition MPs

The body the Opposition Leader referenced is the new Regional Joint Support Team revealed during the Committee of Supply for which $249,967,523 has been allocated.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira had argued back in June that there is “nothing conspiratorial” about the new Regional Joint Support Team but the Opposition riddled her with questions about its make up, whether it is constitutional, and whether either the Guyana Police Force (GPF) or Guyana Defence Force (GDF) would usurp the power of the other.

About a month prior to the deliberations during the Committee of Supply, in April 2021, President Irfaan Ali had stated that there is only so much his Administration can do with its “limited resources” to fight crime.

His remarks came days after the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) highlighted to the media its “great concern” about the country’s crime situation.

“Our country is developing at a massive rate and, as I recently told the private sector, we have limited resources in managing both external and domestic threats to our country’s security. We have recognised the fact that our law enforcement capacity is challenged by the sophisticated evolvement of criminal enterprise and my Government understands the responsibility of meeting the challenge to protect our people, their lives, and their property,” the President said.

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