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|In what would be a first in the 12th Parliament, the Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) will take a Lobbying Bill to the National Assembly. Opposition Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Roysdale Forde SC, said he expects the Bill will be debated and passed because it serves to benefit all Guyanese. The Bill, which is a response to the proposed Lobbying Act, addresses the unregulated access and influence of persons who seek to lobby politicians to support their enterprises, said Forde
In an interview with Village Voice, Forde cited the Su Zhirong brouhaha, or what some have since called ‘Su gate’, as one such reason why the Bill is both necessary and pivotal. Zhirong, in an interview recently aired by US-based VICE News, boasted of his connection to Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and being able to secure for himself and other Chinese businesses state contracts that involved bribery.
Part PART I of the Bill provides for the interpretation of terms used in the Act such as lobbying lobbyist and lobbying activities.
PART II of the Bill provides that a Regulatory entity must establish a Register of Lobbyists containing a record of the individuals registered as lobbyists, returns, and other documents, which must be publicly available. The Bill provides that the Regulatory entity may suspend or remove individuals from the Register of Lobbyists where returns are not filed or additional information is not provided as required. Suspensions and removals will need to be notified to Members of Parliament and chief executives of government departments.
PART III of the Bill provides that the Regulatory entity shall develop a Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct and any individual who, or company or firm or organisation which, is required to file a return of lobbying activity must comply with the Code. The Regulatory entity shall investigate alleged breaches of the Code and may suspend or remove individuals from the Register of Lobbyists where a breach of the Code is found to have occurred. The Regulatory entity may prepare a report of any investigation and submit it.
PART IV of the Bill makes it an offence to engage in lobbying activity without being registered as a lobbyist and also provides for contraventions against making false statements to the Regulatory Agency. The Bill also provides that regulations may be made.
Corruption in Guyana has been on the rise again, after declining during the APNU+AFC Government. According to the Transparency International Corruptions Index Guyana, in 2021, dropped two points on the Index which means that corruption is on the increase. Corruption deprived people in the society of human rights because mismanagement of resources deprive citizens of the right to access quality education, health, water, etc.