EYEWITNESS: Decisions, decisions…

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…on equal employment opportunity at GECOM

So the PPP Commissioners on GECOM have followed up their threat to take the employment practices of the organisation to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC)? What now?? Since there were two sets of objections touted, we should untangle them to take a stab at guessing in what direction the ERC’s decision may go, based on its mandate.

Now, who can bring a matter to the ERC? That is: who has standing? Fortunately, that’s stated very clearly: “Persons who believe others were discriminated against because of their ethnicity, i.e. the complainant does not have to be the victim.” So the ERC can bring up both claims – that Indian Guyanese are grossly underrepresented on GECOM versus African and Mixed Guyanese; and secondly, that Vishnu Persaud was discriminated against for the position of Deputy CEO in favour of Roxanne Myers.

We also have to make sure the ERC has “jurisdiction” over the matters. Art 212D of the Constitution outlines 24 functions, among which are to: “Provide for equality of opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups,” and to “Promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity”. So it looks like the ERC can’t refuse to make a decision on the PPP Commissioners’ submissions.

But how can they go about examining whether there was “equality of opportunity” in the employment practices of GECOM? Were the jobs advertised widely, so all ethnic groups were informed of the vacancies? Most crucially, they’ll have to check on all the applications and note the ethnicity of the applicants, to check whether PNC Commissioner Alexander’s assertion is factual that African Guyanese tend to apply in greater numbers for Public Service jobs.

Finally, they’ll have to ensure the applicants were judged by the same criteria; and whether, as asserted, the PNC Commissioners tended to give very low scores to Indian Guyanese applicants on subjective criteria; or vice versa. If the ERC Commissioners don’t take this objective, empirical approach, then they’re just moving the charge of discrimination one step backwards.

Finally, on the selection of Vishnu Persaud, did he in fact receive a higher score than his competitor Myers? If yes, the matter ends there…and there was discrimination against him.

The fact that he has experience in the field, unlike Myers, and his qualifications are more germane to the position sought, are just icing on the cake.

But your Eyewitness is convinced that none of the above will matter in the end. The fix was in the moment the Chairman of the ERC was announced. This is a gentlemen who will not be willing to go against what are pellucidly the desires of this PNC Government.

…to refine or not to refine

Another drilling by Exxon; another gusher found!! It’s getting almost monotonous!! With the latest find and the final reserve of the largest find still out, the new total of more than 3.2 billion barrels is definitely on the low side.

What this means is the projected production of 300,000 barrels per day with 2 FPSOs in 5 years is also conservative. One question that was floated early but has now been dropped is: do we refine our share of the production or not? Firstly, there’s no question that, by adding value in refining, we increase our revenues. And then there are the employment and products other than petroleum.

So, are we gonna get enough oil to justify a refinery? With our 2% royalty off the top, that’s 7000 bpd, and with the 12.5% of remainder as profits that brings us up to at least 50,000 bpd.

The Government should now tell us why there’s no refinery – including PPP- funded.

…on better medical care

If nothing else, the tragic death of young Beyonce Ross, our female champion cyclist, should convince the leaders that Guyana needs a specialty hospital. We won’t even bring up the inequity of only some getting overseas treatment.

Forget it was the PPP’s idea. Please!

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