It was another month of absolute chaos and confusion at Region Five’s monthly statutory meeting yesterday at the Regional Democratic Council’s Boardroom, after Councillors on the APNU/AFC’s side continuously interrupted Regional Chairman Vickchand Ramphal as he addressed the council.
At one point, Councilor Dillon Crawford, from the APNU/AFC side told the Chairman that they were lucky that they have a “strong” REO that “does not give a damn about what you think and your views”.
His statements were made following requests to have a recording of the February 2018 meeting be made available to the council. This was shut down by the Regional Chairman and Vice Chairman, Ryon Peters. They said that the recorder was turned off after there was a walkout by the coalition Councilors for that meeting.
Councilor Abel Seetaram who asked that the recording be provided to prove that the meeting was adjourned, stated that for several months for last year that request was made but it has not been made available.
He said, “I am not saying you (Chairman) are lying but we are relying on the recordings. To date you are failing us to tell the clerk to bring forth that recording. Is that something to hide? I would like the clerk of the council to address us because it seems that 2019 will be the same again.
“If it cannot be provided something is wrong. You want things your way but it will not happen like that, we have to get it the council way and therefore I am asking for the recording to be provided so we can move on and have a successful year.”
However, when the Regional Chairman attempted to address councilor Seetaram’s concerns, Crawford interrupted him. Ramphal then told the councilor that he will have his time to speak but he should not speak when the Chairman is addressing the council.
This did not sit well with the councilor since he asked the Chairman to reference where in the standing orders states that he cannot speak when the Chairman is speaking.
He then asked that the Clerk of Council provide some guidance on the matter. As the back and forth shouting continued across the boardroom the Regional Chairman asked the council to reach a consensus on the matter “so that the business of the region can continue”.
Councilor Crawford once again interrupted and said that “unless he (Chairman) can point out in the standing order that a councilor cannot get up on a point of order while he is speaking I will not take my seat.
“I am just asking for some clarity from the clerk of council because you fail to remember the clerk of council will give us a guidance; that is all we are asking.
“We stood here again and again for the recording and you fail, we are not gonna sit here and hear you speak that you asked for the recording which everyone in the house know that you are lying. You are failing us”.
At that point when the situation seemed to be brewing out of control, the Vice Chairman, Ryon Peters stood up and explained that the recorder “is usually placed at every meeting and I think that it is by no mistake that the honorable members are calling on recording.
“Without any doubt I can say that there is no such recording of you (Chairman) adjourning the meeting because I can remember when the clerk and the other members stepped outside the recorder was turned off.
“I am not speculating; it was turned off, it is by no mistake that the member is asking for a recording”.
The Regional Chairman later spoke with the media at his office. He detailed that there have been several issues affecting the people of Region Five but due to the “bullyish attitude” of the coalition councilors, those matters are left at a standstill.
He said, “Today’s meeting I mentioned that for us to move forward we must ratify and confirm the minutes of February 2018 because in March, REO had wanted to remove a reporter and because I objected to that and said the council must preside over the matter, the clerk of council refused to sit in the meeting and walked out.
“I remained seated for over two hours. APNU walked out since they could not remove the reporter and while I was waiting, they refused to come back. I officially adjourned and left.
“The REO reconvened a new meeting with coalition Councillors when he knew myself and the Vice Chairman were in the region. I was in my office. They would have ratified and confirmed the minutes of February and prepared a new minute for the month of March.”
Ramphal stated that such an action carried out by the REO, Ovid Morrison is illegal. According to him, there is a hidden agenda behind the breaking up of the meetings.
He added, “Contractors are complaining bitterly, financial records are not being provided, the accountability, everything is being kept in secret. This should have been public since it is taxpayers’ money. I have written the REO on many times requesting financial statements, savings under different programmes, employment of staff of region and unto today the REO has not been providing that. He has been shielded by APNU Councillors and that is why corruption continues here”.
The Vice Chairman Peters opined that if meetings are successful at statutory then the REO will have to answer questions. He too said that the model farm, an idea birthed by the REO, has not benefited anyone but REO.
Peters also mentioned that when excavation works are done in the region, it is only for selected areas chosen by the REO while the regional works committee, which he is the head of, is being sidelined when the projects are executed.
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