The matter involving some dismissed workers from the New Building Society (NBS) is not likely to find its way onto the parliamentary agenda. Even if the dismissals form the content of a Special Report or appears in the Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsman, does not necessarily have to be specifically debated by the National Assembly.
A number of agencies and public offices table their annual reports in the National Assembly. They are required by law to do so.
One of the first acts of the new APNU+ AFC government was to table a number of annual reports of government agencies and a number of agreements.
The Office of the Auditor General submits his report to the Speaker of the National Assembly each year. Those reports are not always debated in the Assembly. It is difficult to recall either a report from the Auditor General or from the Ombudsman being debated on the floor of the National Assembly.
One of the persons dismissed from the NBS has taken the building society to court and therefore if the issue of the dismissal is raised as part of any consideration of the Report of the Ombudsman, the Standing Orders of the National Assembly would prohibit it being debated. Matters before the Courts can only be mentioned in the National Assembly in a non-prejudicial way. It is difficult to imagine how a debate on the dismissals at the NBC cannot be prejudicial to the legal action filed.
There is of course no relevance in the matter being raised in the National Assembly. This dismissal of the employees has nothing to do with the government. The New Building Society is a private institution. It is not a government institution and there is nothing that the government can do to have the men reinstated or to have whatever benefits may be due to any of them paid.
The issue of the men being dismissed is a dispute between NBS and the persons concerned. Some of them may feel that there were political motives at work but that does not in any alter the fact that this is essentially a private matter for which the government really cannot intervene and should not intervene since the latter course would be highly irregular.
There are a great many people who suffer injustices in society or they feel that they suffer such injustices. These persons often appealed to the government to intervene to resolve these matters. However in many instances the government has nothing to do with the perceived in justice or of resolving the matter.
People feel good when they appeal to government and government can intervene and help them out. But there is a danger with government involving itself in private disputes.
It is not for government to get involved in resolving private disputes unless of course the law makes provision for such involvement. For example, the labour laws provide for recourse to the Ministry of Labor if someone is not paid for work done as an employee.
While it is always nice for government to help citizens get justice, the government must avoid imposing itself in private disputes, whether they involve persons being dismissed by the New Building Society, or involve sums owed by one person to another that are not covered by our labour laws.
It was reported in the Guyana Chronicle of March 3, 2016 that through the intervention of the Ministry of Natural Resources that a female miner who was owed monies by someone to whom she had rented out her mining lands was able to receive the monies owed to her because of the intervention of that ministry.
This may seem to be heartwarming story of a caring government helping someone who was owed money to receive what was due to her.
What was disturbing though – and this is where the danger lies – is the explanation that was given in that report. It was conceded that the Ministry was not in a position to force members (of the public) to do what was right but that those miners ( who owed other persons) would want to benefit from concessions offered by the administration and that the ministry could say to them they are ineligible for those concessions based on records.
Now what does this mean?
Does this mean that if a miner has a private dispute with another person and that person files a report to the Ministry that the duty free concessions due to the miner can be withheld until he or she settles his private dispute with the person whom he or she is alleged to owe money to?
Is this what is being implied here? Is it being implied that the withholding of concessions can be used to encourage people to settle private disputes?
The Ministry of Natural Resources should clarify what is being implied here because if the explanation is that concessions can be withheld until personal disputes are settled, then it is the perfect example of the danger of government imposing itself into private disputes.
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