After several years of delay, President David Granger yesterday swore-in members of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), while members of the Integrity Commission were sworn-in before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
Speaking to members of the ERC and the TSC, who took their oath of office at State House, the President underscored the importance of their constitutional roles to the development of the country.
“I congratulate the members of the Ethnic Relations Commission and Teaching Service Commission. I urge them to discharge their duties without cowardice, without malice and without prejudice,” President Granger stated.
The ERC was established in 2003 with the primary purpose of hearing and investigating the complaints of citizens who believe they have been mistreated based on their race.
President Granger noted that the ERC is intended to promote good relations, harmony, peace, tolerance and understanding between our peoples; to provide equal opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups. He noted that the ERC is also mandated by the Constitution to educate.
The ERC members are Barrington Braithwaite, Ruth Howard, Roshan Khan, Major General Norman McLean, Pandit Deodat Sharma, Ashton Simon, Rajkumarie Singh, Bishop John Smith, Neaz Subhan and Norris Witter.
A chairman will be voted on by the members at the first meeting.
Prior to the expiration of the life of the ERC, an injunction was filed by the People’s National Congress Reform, who deemed the body unconstitutional, since the term of the Commissioners had come to an end in 2007.
The People’s National Congress had at the time put forward several claims against the ERC and called for its reconstruction.
Several attempts to name the commissioners through the Parliamentary Committee of Appointment were met by delays. A report was finally approved last year by the Parliament which cleared the way for the appointments.
Meanwhile, the TSC members are Avril Crawford, Allan Munroe, Elizabeth Ramlal, Amjad Shaw, Deborah Thomas, Barbara Thomas-Holder and Marcel Hutson.
Among other things, their first order of business would be to clear the huge backlog of appointments between 2016 and 2017.
The TSC, which is tasked with promoting public school teachers, was dissolved in October, 2017. President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, Mark Lyte, had bemoaned the lack of promotions for teachers. He had called for the appointment of the members of the TSC along with the School Board Secretariat (SBS).
Lyte had hoped that following promotions which became effective at the start of the September, 2017 school term, efforts would have been engaged by the TSC to commence another round of promotions, given the fact that there was none in 2016.
The members of the Integrity Commission took their oath of office at the Ministry of the Presidency. Members are attorney Kumar Doraisami, the committee’s chairman; attorney Thandi McAllister; attorney Rosemary Benjamin-Noble and Pandit Rabindranauth Persaud.
They have taken up their roles at a time when Guyana is entering new financial prospects in the oil and gas sector. Their main purpose is to scrutinize public officers to ensure that they do not use their officers for financial gain.
Under the law, public officers including the President, Permanent Secretaries, Director of Public Prosecutions, Auditor General, Commissioner of Police, the Army Chief, Heads of the Service Commissions, Foreign Affairs officials, Judges and Magistrates and Department Heads are required to declare their assets to the commission.
Also required to submit declaration forms of their earnings and gifts received are Regional Executive Officers, the Chief Elections Officer, Mayors, Chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers of state companies, Registrars of Lands and the Commissioner-General of Guyana Revenue Authority, along with Presidential Advisors, and Heads of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Forestry Commission.
It must be noted that the Commission had lapsed in 2012 under the Donald Ramotar presidency.
Earlier this year, Minister of State Joseph Harmon had said that for the time being, the Integrity Commission was functioning with a very small staff with a very limited budget.
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