Apr 07, 2017 News
…has not held a press conference in over a year
By Brushell Blackman
It has been more than a year since Head of State David Granger has held a press conference
outside of the fortnightly televised ‘Public Interest’ which is a programme moderated and produced by the Ministry of Presidency.
When the Head of State was questioned on the issue he said he is always accessible to the media. Whenever he attends any function he is always willing to answer questions that the media might have, he said.
President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA), Neil Marks, said that although the president has been accessible to the media at functions it is the consensus among media operatives that the Head of State should hold regular press conferences.
The President’s Communications Director, Mark Archer, said that all questions in relation to the lack of press conferences by the Head of State should be directed to the president. Archer added that he was unable to speak on the issue. So too said the Head of the Department of Public (DPI) Information, Imran Khan.
Former Attorney General and People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) member Anil Nandlall believes that the president has a duty to meet with the press on a regular basis. Nandlall believes that the fortnightly ‘Public Interest’ that features the president can in no way suffice for meeting with the wider press corps.
“The fortnightly TV Programme ‘Public Interest’, where the journalists are obviously chosen and instructed what questions to ask, is not and cannot be a substitute.”
The fact is that, media houses are invited to send their reporters who may ask any question they please after the opening round.
The former AG said it is the duty of the Head of government, who is also the Head of State, to face the nation’s journalists at regular periodic intervals to answer questions of national and international importance.
Nandlall said that when the current government was in opposition it repeatedly criticized the ruling administration at the time for being unaccountable and not transparent.
“Mr. Granger and many of his ministers, who campaigned to practise transparency, democratic and accountable government, now seem to have a phobia for the press.”
The PPP/C Member of Parliament said central to the attainment of transparent and accountable government is accessibility to public officials, and members of the government by the media.
He said reporters have repeatedly complained about their inability to get access to public officials and Ministers of the government for their comments, views and answers with respect to burning issues of public importance.
Nandlall said it was strange that the same persons to whom the press had access 24 hours per day while they were in the opposition are now rarely accessible.
He believes a free and independent media, should be allowed to operate in an environment where there is freedom to receive ideas and information.
Further, he said access to public authorities, state agencies and the workings of Government are all considered fundamental prerequisites of a free and democratic society that are the hallmarks of a transparent and accountable government.
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