APNU/AFC questions bona fides of GPF’s Communications Unit

Members of the Corporate Communications Unit of the Guyana Police Force
Members of the Corporate Communications Unit of the Guyana Police Force

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Geeta Chandan-Edmond has submitted to the National Assembly a plethora of questions regarding the operations of the new Corporate Communications Unit of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

On February 16, 2021, radio broadcaster Stan Gouveia announced that he was appointed Deputy Communications Director of the GPF while former Editor-in-Chief of the State-owned Guyana Chronicle, Mark Ramotar became the Director. Gouveia and Ramotar assumed their new roles effective February 1.

This new arrangement is a deviation from standard practice whereby a serving member of the Force would assume responsibility for the organisation’s public relations.

Just before the establishment of the rebranded Communications Unit, Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor served as the Public Relations Officer (PRO). Prior to him, the position was held by Senior Superintendent Jairam Ramlakhan.

Chandan-Edmond, who represents the APNU/AFC Opposition, has asked Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn to explain the rationale of setting up a new unit to manage the Force’s communication and public relations.

In particular, she asked “Can the Hon Minister state whether the recently established Corporate Communications Unit was created in accordance with the Standing Orders of the Guyana Police Force? If yes, can the Minister indicate which Section was amended. If no, can the Minister state under which authority was the Unit established?”

Minister Benn was also asked to disclose whether the positions of Director and Deputy Director were advertised and what criteria was used in arriving at suitable candidates.

Chandan-Edmond further requested that copies of the terms of the contracts for the appointments of the Director and Deputy Director of the Corporate Communications Unit be made public.

The Opposition Member also asked the Home Affairs Minister to disclose their qualifications, duties, and responsibilities and state if other allowances and benefits are afforded to the Director and Deputy Director, which are not included in their contracts.

In addition, Chandan-Edmond questioned whether additional costs are attached to the services rendered by the Director and Deputy Director “for which the Government of Guyana and, by extension, taxpayers are responsible”.

She also wanted the Minister to state whether the roles of these new employees overlap those of Police officers who have been trained and assigned to perform these tasks.

Moreover, Chandan-Edmond inquired whether other civilians are attached to the Unit.
“If yes, what are their qualifications, salaries, and allowances. Further, were these positions advertised and what criteria used in selecting these individuals?”

She also asked whether Police officers operate within the Unit, and if yes, for the Minister to disclose how many.

Her final question was “Can the Hon Minister state how many staff are assigned to this Unit?”

Minister Benn is expected to make his answers available in writing at the next sitting of the National Assembly.