Taking umbrage with the reporting on its statement over the commemorative stamps that were to be issued to the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (CJRC) but were halted by the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP), the Ministry is now saying that they did not “scrap” the issuance of the stamps.
In a release by the Ministry of the Presidency on March 23, 2018, it was stated that “President David Granger said that the Cabinet has taken a decision that commemorative stamps, which are national symbols, must adhere to national criteria. He added that such symbols must not be used for private, partisan or political messages, but ought to be used for national purposes.”
Moreover, the statement said that “President Granger said that there is no objection to honouring the life and legacy of Dr. Jagan, who he described as “one of the founders of the Guyanese nation”, but added that Cabinet is of the view that there should be equity in the printing of such commemorative stamps, which are national symbols.”
It was then outlined that “the Government of Guyana will announce shortly, national symbols to celebrate the life and work of former Presidents of Guyana, H.E. Raymond Arthur Chung, OE and H.E. Dr. Cheddi Jagan, OE, within the context of set criteria for honouring eminent Guyanese. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the birth of both former Presidents.”
MOTP in a statement today (Monday) said it “reasserts that commemorative stamps, which are national symbols, must adhere to national criteria and must not be used for private, partisan or political messages, but ought to be used for national purposes. The Government has stated clearly and has iterated its decision to ensure that the stamps will be distributed within that context.”
These statements were made in light of the CJRC and the former Chairman of the Guyana Post Office Corporation (GPOC), Juan Edghill, expressing concerns that the production of the proposed stamps to honour the late President was being hindered because of political interference.
The CJRC had slammed the GPOC for its failure to deliver on its commitment to make the collection of stamps available for Dr Jagan’s birth centenary on March 22.
Additionally, the CJRC had said that they were “given all assurances both by the GPOC and the subject Minister Cathy Hughes that the Stamp would be available on time for the launch, only to be told by the Post Office that we should contact the Office of the President for the release of the Stamps.”
However, former Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall has since said in a release that the MOTP interviewing in the issuance of the stamps is unlawful and can be seen as another “authoritative” move.
According to Nandlall, the GPOC “is a statutory body corporate. By law, it is managed by a Board of Directors and possesses its own persona. It can attract liabilities, own assets and hire its own employees. It is not a department of the Government but an agency of the state.”
Moreover, the former AG cited case laws that expounded on the independence of agencies such as the GPOC and Guyana Revenue Authority from Government.
“It must now be inexorably clear that the GPOC is not a Government department…they are not subject to Government’s supervision or control. It must also be unequivocally clear that any attempt by the Government, including the President, to interfere with the day-to-day activities and operations of the GPOC and its staff, would be unlawful, clear executive lawlessness and abuse of power” said the former AG.
Among other things, Nandlall also posited that “The Ministry of the Presidency is free to and indeed, may consider itself duty-bound to commemorate the life and work of every former President. However, it has no authority to monopolize such activities. Therefore, other organisations are free to do likewise.”