…optimistic of recommendations for improving agencyThe Natural Resources Ministry has hit back against suggestions that the task force Government established to reform the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has nefarious political motives.The Guyana Forestry Commission head office, Kingston, GeorgetownAccording to the Ministry in a statement, the task force’s mandate will be to reorganise and restructure the Commission, which has been plagued by criticisms over administrative concerns and complaints from staff.“The Ministry of Natural Resources has taken note of the letters and commentaries regarding the functioning of the task force and wishes to reiterate the Cabinet’s direction on this matter … The task force’s mandate shall include, but will not be limited to, an examination and evaluation of current job descriptions and performance standards, personnel procedures, conditions of employment and appointment, wages and salary structures and payroll administration,” the statement said.“It will further aim at improving the efficient performance and effective management of the Commission by identifying training and development opportunities for staff. The task force is expected to submit to the Minister of Natural Resources a work schedule with timelines and a preliminary report that would complete this assignment no later than July 2019. “According to the Ministry, the task force was established in keeping with the national objective of moving towards a ‘green’ economy and the consequent realignment of critical agencies of the State. As such, the proposal for the restructuring of the GFC was approved by Cabinet.“Consequently, a task force has been established jointly between the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Board of Directors of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) to address the reorganising and restructuring of the Forestry Commission. ““The task force will include the technical and administrative talent and personnel of the MNR, the Board, and the Commission, who will examine the structure and functioning of the GFC to make recommendations to the Minister of Natural Resources Hon Raphael GC Trotman, who, in turn, is mandated to present a report to Cabinet.”According to the statement, the Convener of the Task Force is the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Project Coordinator Clayton Hall.“The Ministry expects that this addresses misguided remarks about the task force having an ulterior and devious political purpose, and clears up any uncertainties and awaits the preliminary report and work schedule,” it added.There have been letters written by staff of the GFC, who have expressed concern over the restructuring effort. In one such letter, the staff member wrote that when Hall was confronted with probing questions during an April 26 meeting with staff, the meeting ended abruptly.“Several GFC staff asked questions that were of high concern on the minds of staff: would the monitoring division and resources management divisions be merged as pre-empted by Hall’s early submission of his desired structure of the GFC? Would staff be dismissed and left hopeless and helpless?“What would happen to the families of these staff? Is it a witch-hunting exercise aimed at getting rid of specific persons? Is the committee experienced in human resources management to undertake a task such as this? And finally, how were the members of the task force chosen and is there a clear terms of reference for the committee’s work?”According to the staff, a showdown ensued during which Hall was asked by Commissioner James Singh to withdraw certain comments made in the meeting to staff, who were also on the verge of walking out.
Caricom Secretary GeneralIrwin LaRocqueChairman of Caricom, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy HarrisThe Caribbean Community (Caricom) is keeping a close eye on proceedings in Guyana, with its leadership being regularly briefed and in touch with the parties involved in the aftermath of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) rulings on the no-confidence vote cases.This is according to Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque on Tuesday while being interviewed on the sidelines of an event. He sought to deny reports that Caricom has not been active enough in trying to ensure Guyana remains a democratic and not authoritative State.“There’s a process ongoing since the no-confidence vote. The process has worked so far, in the sense that the CCJ delivered a judgement and its consequential orders. And the CCJ, in my view, was very, very clear that all the actors concerned, must play their part,” LaRocque told the media.“As I understand it, there continues to be dialogue among the parties. We continue to monitor everything very closely. I have met with both the President and the Leader of the Opposition on more than one occasion. Following the ruling, I’ve met the Opposition Leader and spoken to the President. So I’m in touch, I’ll continue to be in touch.”The Secretary General added that the Chairman of Caricom, St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, is being briefed regularly on the situation and has also reached out to leaders in Guyana. But LaRocque stayed on the side of caution when it comes to taking a more proactive role.“We’ll continue monitoring this. We remain available to assist if we’re asked to assist. But Caricom does not interfere unless the democratic and judicial process breaks down. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It doesn’t mean we’re not engaged. We are fully engaged,” he stressed.PressureWith the parliamentary Opposition continuing to mount pressure, most of the representatives from the international community have been urging the country’s political players to act swiftly and in compliance with the Constitution, as ordered by the CCJ.In a joint statement issued recently, members of the diplomatic community in Guyana, including the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union, stated that they have taken note of the CCJ’s pronouncements on July 12.They said it is important for the rule of law that all invoked actors abide by the CCJ’s ruling and the relevant provisions of the Constitution. The diplomats furthered urged that this adherence be done expeditiously.“The Caribbean Court of Justice – Guyana’s Supreme Court – has spoken. It is important for the rule of law that all invoked actors abide by its ruling and the relevant provisions of the Constitution. We urge everyone to do so expeditiously,” the diplomats said in the joint communique.This follows statements issued by the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), American Chambers (AmCham) and other sections of society, which also urged compliance with the Court and Constitution.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and other observers have, however, previously called out Caricom for its silence on the Government’s reluctance to adhere to the Constitution of Guyana and the CCJ rulings.