Linden Town Clerk Jonellor Bowen, today received from the Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan a letter revoking her appointment for a position she held since the previous Administration was in office.
Bowen told sections of the media that the revocation letter was dated today and did not cite any grounds for her dismissal other than the Minister’s authority to act which in enshrined in Sections 118(1) and 326 (4) of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01.
She noted that while she could not ascertain why her appointment was revoked, she had cause to dispatch several letters that complained about the alleged abuse of officials by the Linden Mayor.
Those dispatched letters were reportedly sent to the Linden Mayor, the Linden Town Counicllors and to Bulkan and his Permanent Secretary (PS), Emil McGarrel.
Bowen was only recently reinstated to her position of Town Clerk after she was sent on administrative leave pending an investigation into alleged wrongdoings within the Council.
Councillors of the municipality had passed a No-Confidence Motion against Bowen on July 27, 2016, and she was sent on administrative leave in October 2016, following a Commission of Inquiry into alleged wrongdoings within the Council.
The Commission of Inquiry which released its findings a few weeks ago, found that the Motion brought against the Town Clerk was “in contravention with the procedures set out in Section 8 of Chapter 28:01 of the Municipal and District Councils Act of the Laws of Guyana and was also in contravention of the Standing Order rules under Section 9.”
PS McGarrel, wrote to the Council in a letter dated January 26, 2017, advising the Council to reinstate Bowen. McGarrel noted in the letter that arising from the findings of this Committee, the Ministry is not in a position to endorse the No-Confidence Motion as it currently stands due to its procedural irregularities. He further advised that the Town Clerk shall be called upon to resume her functions as Town Clerk forthwith.
Local Government Commission
Meanwhile, observers have raised concerns that the body which was constituted to address situations such as these, the Local Government Commission (LGC), has yet to become operational, even though its eight members from the State and Opposition among others were chosen several months ago.
Opposition Member of Parliament Juan Edghill was quoted in sections of the media today saying that “in absence of a Commission, this officer is left in the cold at the discretion of the sole politician…what we are seeing is not an administrative decision. It is a political decision.”
Mentioning the findings of the COI into the Town Clerk’s investigation, Edghill posited “if there was an Investigative Committee and a report was submitted and the officer was cleared, then on what basis was her appointment revoked…no cause for the revocation was stated and no notice was given. This was a purely political decision.”
Bulkan had said- after promising the establishment of the LGC on multiple occasions prior and failing to deliver- that the Commission would be established this year.
The LGC is provided for in Guyana’s Constitution via Article 78 (a).
The Bill to enable the establishing of the Commission was passed in the National Assembly in August 2013 and in November that year received Presidential assent.
The Commission’s functions, outlined at clause 13. (1) of the Act, says that the Commission shall have power to deal with all matters relating to the regulation and staffing of local government organs including employment and dismissal of staff and with dispute resolution within and between local government organs, and in particular, shall monitor and review the performance and implementation of policies of all local government organs, including policies of taxation and protection of the environment, among other powers.