Kaieteur News – The first named person in the caption has been removed as the CEO of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA). The second name is no longer CEO of the Lands and Survey Commission. The third person listed in the headline of this column is the City Engineer, Colvern Venture, who is trying to avoid dismissal by the Georgetown City Council.
For previous articles on these three gentlemen, two of which thankfully are no longer in public service, see my three columns – Tuesday, January 22, 2019, “Central Housing and the woman who peed in the Botanical Gardens”; Thursday, February 7, 2019, “CH&PA and the City Engineer and you know what?” and Sunday, June 30, 2019, “Trevor Benn doesn’t impress me.”
I have my conversation with Lelon Saul on tape so I will advise him to be careful how he denies what is written here before he embarrasses himself before his fellow Guyanese. A friend had told me it had been almost a year and he did not hear about his application to operate a little business where he lives in Kitty.
I tried for three weeks to speak to Saul by phone. I went to see then Minister of Housing, Valerie Patterson. The Minister told me that she will make enquiries. She called me at my home to tell me the permit was denied and she said that a formal letter will follow. Even for the letter I had to contact the CH&PA to get it done weeks after the minister requested it.
In a heavy business district in Georgetown they told the man it was a residential area. I contacted, then Minister Ronald Bulkan, whose portfolio CH&PA fell under. Next thing I knew, I got a call from Saul, a conversation I recorded. He conceded that the man was wrongly treated. I am not going to repeat the details here because they are in the February 7, 2019 column mentioned above. CH&PA did not correct the injustice.
I am not going to repeat my conversation with Venture. It is in the same February 7 column cited above. What I am prepared to say is that if the City Council removes Venture then as a human rights activist, I will concur. Venture moved to the courts for an injunction and got it. So at this point the organization he works for cannot dismiss him. Assuming that Venture is right, that City Council cannot terminate his employment, only the Local Government Commission can, and the court agrees, I still find the High Court’s decision strange.
I am no lawyer but can the court stop an organization from firing one of its employees on the basis that the organizational head publicly said that he would like to dismiss the officer in question? If that is so, it is strange case. I would like to think it is when you receive the termination letter, then, you ask the court to injunct the decision in the letter. Let’s move to Trevor Benn.
Again it would be redundant to repeat what is already contained in the named column above where I criticized Benn. So we come to the point of this article. Why do another piece on these gentlemen when the same contents can be read in the three columns stated above?
Here is my answer. These three men presided over very, and I repeat, very important state institutions – the CH&PA, the City Engineer’s Office and the Lands Commission. All three are important to the economy. All three are essential to the success of private investment. All three are crucial to the development of small business people and hard-working working class folks who want to put a roof over the heads of their families.
It is the contestation of this columnist, and I am inflexible and insane about my attitude, that these three institutions have not worked under the APNU+AFC. You will ask me if I am dishonest to say that they functioned competently under the previous PPP/C presidencies. The answer is I am not dishonest. I agree they did not.
But this is why we voted in the APNU+AFC, so ordinary folks who are building a home or want a small plot of land to invest did not have to wait one million years before they receive a reply. And as they waited, they ended up having to beg the autocrats of these three institutions. As a human rights activist, I have received complaints from people who have gone through mental torture over their mistreatment by these three institutions. I am elated that Saul and Benn are gone. I say to Guyana; let’s make sure Venture goes too so that poor house-builders and small business people can live happy in Guyana. They deserve to.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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