Passage of Natural Resources Fund opens door for misuse – Article 13

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… expresses disappointment in conduction of both Govt’ and Opposition 

The “highly flawed” Natural Resources Fund Act, which was rammed through the National Assembly last December, has open the door for misuse, Article 13, a civil society organization, has said.

In its most recent statement, Article 13 said the Act offers little regard for the Santiago Principles, which set out the basic tenets of such Funds. For those reasons, it registered its disappointment at the undue haste with which the Government rushed the Act through Parliament.

“We consider it a salutary lesson that Kazakhstan, whose model of Sovereign Wealth Fund was being considered as a potential influence for Guyana’s, is now experiencing unprecedented disturbances, loss of lives, looting of private property, destruction of public property, and orders by the President to domestic and invited Russian troops to shoot to kill protesters without warning,” the organization said.

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Article 13 said it would remiss of it, not to denounce the unacceptable, un-parliamentary conduct of the Opposition in the National Assembly over its “understandable disfavour of the content of the Natural Resource Fund Act, the autocratic manner in which the Government forced its passage, facilitated by an increasingly partisan Speaker whose suitability for that post must now be a matter of national concern.”

Notwithstanding the issues at hand, Article 13 said it is important for all Members of the National Assembly to respect its sanctity while employing all available official and legal channels to make their case. Their legitimacy, conduct and appeal are not independent variables, it posited.

It also called on President Irfaan Ali, once again, to use his powers to ensure that the organs of the Constitution are established in the shortest possible time. “With a new Chief Election Officer in place, we look forward to Local Government Elections in 2022 and to reforms that will strengthen our democracy, improve our Constitution and make our elections something of which we can all be proud,” it said.

Article 13 also used the opportunity to reject attacks founded on the basis that “it has no electoral constitution.”

It said the attacks are not only unfortunate but mischievous and ignorant.

“As an organisation, we will not be silenced. Nor will we give up our right to participate in the affairs of the country – a right recently affirmed by the Caribbean Court of Justice in the Ogle Airport case,” it said.

Article 13 said it is time the Administration respect those rights not only as a legal construct but as one of good governance.

“Civil society organisations play a pivotal role in good governance, linking governments with the people, thereby enhancing the quality of decisions and decision-making. While a single election may grant power to a political group for the administration of the State, such power has to be exercised within the parameters of the law, of which the Constitution is supreme. In rejecting the recommendations and calls of the parliamentary opposition and civil society to be consulted on some of the biggest issues of the day, this Administration is rejecting a core concept of our Constitution and of democracy,” it reasoned.

It reminded that Guyana’s sovereignty belongs to the people, not to any political party and similarly, its wealth.

It noted that within 17 months, the Ali Administration has chalked up a formidable list of constitutional violations of omissions and commission.

“What makes those violations worse is the Administration’s cavalier disregard of legitimate calls for it to avoid such conduct. We remind the President that his Party did not take an Oath to uphold the Constitution – he did. The violations then are his, not his Party’s,” Article 13 said.



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