Sep 21, 2021 News
– Speaker concerned over tardiness of submission by ERC, other commissions
Kaieteur News – Members of the now expired Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), have finally submitted the annual reports for the years, 2018, 2019 and 2020, along with recommendations and concerns that will be used to guide the work of the next Commission.
The reports were handed over to Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, yesterday during a simple ceremony at the New Thriving Restaurant. The report will be made public after it is laid in the National Assembly when it reconvenes on October 10, 2021.
Former ERC Chairman, Reverend John Smith, who presented the documents to the Speaker, told the gathering that the ERC has been working despite the negative public perception over the years that the commission has not been doing its work.
“We know sometimes people didn’t believe that we did work, this is the evidence. Some in the print media had a lot to say but I am happy they are here so that they can view the handing over and the work that was done,” he said.
In response, the Speaker thanked the former Chairman for the work done in putting together the reports and recommendations. “I commend you for the work done and I will be happy to read the recommendations,” the Speaker said.
He noted, nonetheless, that he is quite disappointed with the late submission of reports, by not just the ERC, but other commissions.
“I am very disappointed. Had I been a sitting elected member of the National Assembly and I don’t see a report for the year prior, I would have been objecting to the budget for the next year because here we have reports for a very important commission for three years coming all at once,” Nadir said.
He stressed that the ERC is a “very serious commission” and said that while it may not solve the problems of the people immediately, through persistent work and dialogue change will be affected.
The Speaker noted “one of the things that have been lacking the ERC is a proactive approach that needs to change… If you are falling behind with this ad hoc approach, then hire a consultant to ensure we meet our deadlines.”
The ERC is a Constitutional, non-political body that was established to promote ethnic harmony and security in Guyana. The three-year-term of the Board of Commissioners, which was installed in 2018, came to an end in April 23, 2021.
At that time, the Commission issued a statement in which it noted, that despite the successes over the past three years, the ERC had also encountered a few stumbling blocks along the way, the most prominent being the deadly COVID-19 pandemic which severely interrupted its public awareness field work in 2020.
The ERC reminded too that following a hiatus of seven years, the re-constituted Board was sworn in, in February, 2018 with Reverend John Smith, the elected Chairman and Major-General (ret’d), Norman Mclean, as Deputy Chairman.
Other Commissioners who took the oath of office were: Barrington Braithwaite, Ruth Howard, Hajji Dr. Roshan Khan, Pandit Deodat Persaud, Ashton Simon, Rajkumarie Singh, Neaz Subhan and Norris Witter.
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