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… as Gov’t uses majority to nominate Dunstan Barrow for NRF Board
The Opposition walked out of Wednesday’s meeting of the Committee of Appointments after the Government used its one-seat majority to select its nominee Dunstan Barrow, a businessman and former People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Member of Parliament, for appointment to the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Board of Directors.
At the meeting the Opposition proposed two nominees: Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram, and former Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Vincent Adams but they rejected by the Government parliamentarians who sit on the appointments committee.
In addition to Barrow, the Government had also nominated former Deputy Commissioner General at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Clement Sealey and former Guyana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Hamley Case – for consideration.
However, the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act only provides for the National Assembly to nominate a single individual to sit on the NRF Board of Directors. With Barrow being selected by the Committee of Appointments, his name will now be submitted to the National Assembly for the House’s approval. According to Section 5 (1) of the National Resource Fund Act, the NRF’s Board of Directors shall comprise not less than three and not more than five members who shall be appointed by the President, one of whom shall be appointed Chairperson by the President.
Section 5 (2) adds: “The Directors shall be selected from among persons who have wide experience and ability in legal, financial, business or administrative matters, one of whom shall be nominated by the National Assembly and one of whom shall be a representative of the Private Sector.” The Legislation makes similar provisions for appointments to the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee.
Though hesitant, Chairman of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Aubrey Norton, on Tuesday, disclosed that it was important to have an Opposition nominee sit on the NRF Board of Directors to allow for scrutiny, checks and balances, although it is the Opposition’s intention to challenge the legality of the NRF Act in the Courts. “If we leave you the Natural Resource Fund without scrutiny, one, you will be excluding yourself from knowing what is happening, and two, you will be making the ground much easier for the PPP to not only continue to expand its corruption. So we have taken a pragmatic approach, which says, we will challenge it, we will argue that it hasn’t been legally passed …but in the interest of the people of Guyana, we will scrutinize and monitor to ensure we can contribute to a reduction in PPP corruption,” Norton had explained.
According to him, the coalition is actively compiling a case against the Government with regards to the legality of the NRF Legislation. “First of all we believe that the Natural Resource Fund [Act] was rammed through the Parliament; we believe that there wasn’t adequate consultation; we also believe that in the absence of the mace, it could not have been legally passed, and therefore, as far as I know, work is still being done to put together the entire case to challenge it,” he said.