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—democracy group raps govt over long list of constitutional breaches

The newly formed democracy group- Article 13 on Saturday said it has noted with deep concern the failure by the Irfaan Ali Administration to constitute a long list of constitutional and statutory bodies and offices required for the proper functioning of the country.

“Our Civil Society Organisation is seeking confirmation from Ms. Gail Teixeira, the Minister responsible for Governance, the full list of these bodies and offices and the dates on which they expired,” the group said in a statement.

According to the group, the announcement by Anil Nandlall, Attorney General, that the President would be addressing the issue of the Constitutional Commissions on his return from the global climate change conference is welcome, but far from satisfactory. “Without assigning a tier of importance to constitutional and statutory bodies, the failure by President Ali to establish the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the Public Procurement Commission Tribunal (PPCT), even as his Government expends or announces the expending of billions of dollars of public funds, can no longer be tolerated.” The group added: “Article 212W of the Guyana Constitution provides for the establishment of a five-person PPC whose duty as set out in the Procurement Act includes “the regulation of the procurement of goods, services …. and to promote fairness and transparency in the procurement process”. To buttress the work of the PPC, the Public Procurement Commission Tribunal Act requires the appointment of a three-person Tribunal to hear appeals from any decision made by the Public Procurement Commission. We further note that the President is conferred with the duty and responsibility for the appointment of the members of the Commission after their nomination by the Public Accounts Committee and approval by two-thirds of the National Assembly. He is required to appoint the Chairman of the Tribunal in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, and the two members in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.”

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The democracy group added that as Mr. Nandlall has admitted, the Government has failed to constitute the Judicial Service Commission while it is a public fact that there is no Public Service Commission either. “To add insult to injury, the Ali Administration, in violation of the Constitution and the PPC Act, gets its Cabinet to issue a farcical and fictitious “no objection” to a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) Agreement for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), secretly negotiated by its own Government! That the Ali Administration does not know, or pretends not to know, that the Procurement Act permits a no objection by the Cabinet only if it determines that a procuring entity has failed to comply with applicable procurement procedures is frightening for the country’s governance and for the public purse, and poses a real and grave threat to the rule of law.”

“These glaring constitutional and statutory breaches indicate a reckless disregard for the Constitution and the laws of the country which were painstakingly put together to prevent corruption and autocratic actions by the Government and to promote transparency and accountability in matters of public finance. We wish to make it clear that we hold the President, his Government, the Opposition, the Speaker as well as the National Assembly responsible for this egregious state of affairs, fifteen months into the new Administration and the Eleventh Parliament. And we hereby put the Government on notice that unless the issue of the Public Procurement Commission and the Tribunal is resolved promptly, Article 13 will take the necessary action, legal and otherwise, to restore constitutionality and the rule of law.



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