Feb 19, 2021 News
– ERC Chair expected to give statement in response today
Kaieteur News – Commissioner of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), Roshan Khan, has recently come to the fore to express his displeasure with its current state, saying that it is dysfunctional and wasteful.
Khan made his comments via a letter published in Kaieteur News’ February 15, 2021 edition highlighting issues within the current ERC that could potentially lead to “serious catastrophe.” Khan stated that recent events occurring within the ERC contradicts its mission and purpose to serve and unite the Guyanese people.
Khan contended that the principles and philosophies of the Commission, which was reconstituted on February 22, 2018, would have deteriorated “since the no-confidence motion and leading up to the March 2020 elections” and also contributing to the deterioration were the “political masterminds in place.” The Commissioner claimed that within the ERC were members clandestinely working with political operatives from the coalition opposition to control the commission.
“…In its current state, I am of the opinion, like most Guyanese, that the ERC has been a total letdown to the Guyanese nation and is not deserving of the funds they receive. In my opinion, they have accomplished very little. I believe what was done was insignificant and extremely limited to what could have been achieved,” Khan further stressed.
Notably, Budget Estimates seen by this newspaper indicate that the ERC would have received over $900M in budgetary allocations over the last seven years, leaving questions as to how much of that sum was put to use in the interest of the Guyanese people. Of that $900M in budgetary allocations, approximately $130M was the yearly average.
In highlighting unjust spending within the ERC, Khan said that some of his fellow commissioners, even though they are more than well compensated and earned exceptionally high remuneration, were still not satisfied. Giving examples he said, “Some also wanted a risk allowance to fly on a plane. They wanted risk allowance to go in the jungle. They wanted high-quality boots, which I declined, as the boots were provided at the virtual end of our term.”
Also disclosed were commissioners attempting to grant themselves Christmas bonuses to the tune of $200,000, but receiving $150,000 which still went against the government’s advisory of a $25,000 Christmas bonus for all statutory bodies. He further noted that all of the ERC staff was given $100,000 each, which he refused. “This to me is utterly wrong and a waste of money on tax payers. On several occasions, I expressed my displeasure to them in writing. Because of these malpractices and others too numerous to mention within the ERC, my heart broke,” Khan lamented.
The commissioner noted that, given the current state of the ERC, he is of the firm belief that its commissioners should all resign at once and let the government put a “patriotic Commission” in place via Parliament. He justified his position by saying he initially had high hopes and immense feelings of motivation to serve on the commission, but he has observed egotistic, religious and ethnic prejudices and manipulations by some appointees. These appointees are only interested in “name, position, money” according to Khan, adding that some also put their faith in areas where they are not concerned for mere allowances.
The Commissioner expressed shock at the ERC’s Chairman, Reverend John Smith, stating that Smith pushed the “National Conversation” to give the perception that the ERC is doing something. The National Conversation was held last December, which was aimed at improving Ethnic Relations in the country. Khan acknowledged that it was a good initiative, however, recognition must be given to fellow Commissioner, Neaz Subhan, for being the brains behind it, along with the bits of input from others.
Khan also said that ERC, led by the Chairman, Reverend John Smith, needs to apologize to the nation for pussyfooting during the March 2020 elections, which saw tensions rising and events such as murders, beatings, lootings and destructions of homes and businesses.
“The ERC had the opportunity to prove its relevance in Guyana for the large amounts of money that were given for the sake of goodwill, harmony, and peace,” Khan affirmed, saying it would have been a great credit to the ERC to arise in the heart of these moments, which would have solidified its relevancy in Guyana.
Khan is maintaining that the Commission is serving as a white elephant and Chairman Smith, in his view is an ‘ornamental appointee.’ This publication contacted Reverend Smith for a response to the issues highlighted by Khan, however, he could not respond at the time, stating that a press statement will be sent out today addressing the matters.
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