Almost six months have passed since the APNU+AFC coalition has sworn in the Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons for each region in Guyana, but to date these officials have been given limited powers to execute their duties in their allocated areas.
Until now each of these elected officials are yet to be sworn in as a Justice of the Peace (JP) and as a result of the government’s failure to do so, the Regional Chairpersons and their Vice Chairpersons have been ‘crippled’ in assisting many persons in their regions.
It should be noted that with the Administration’s failure to do so, the regional authorities are not being allowed to perform their roles in society which is a part of their civic duty.
As such the operations at the various Regional Democratic Council (RDC) offices are being stymied and a number of residents especially those living outside of the coastland areas have to spend a lot of money to get the services of a privately commissioned JP.
Chairman of Region One (Barima- Waini) Brentnol Ashley told Inews that this lack of action on the part of the Administration is affecting him and his Regional Vice Chair from performing their duties by rendering the much needed services to the people in his region.
“We cannot attend to them, persons have come in from the various indigenous communities who may not have Justice of the Peace or other communities to provide them with the services such as signing their affidavit. We also have to deal with persons who have issues with name changes that need to get like their old age pensions, or get birth certificates,” Ashley stated.
He pointed out that with the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) the regional authorities are requested to sometimes handle certain duties in relation to the registration period and by not being sworn in as a JP they cannot do so.
Meanwhile, other Regional Chairpersons have also voiced their concerns about this issue and it was reminded that the previous administration, the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Government, would swear in the regional authorities each as a JP on the same day they were appointed to the post of Regional Chair and Regional Vice Chair.
It was during the 2015 budget debates in August last, that former local government permanent secretary Colin Croal pointed out to the new government that they had not sworn in the regional officials as Justices of the Peace and that this situation needed to be rectified immediately.
Thus far the administration is yet to address the issue and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan who is charged with oversight of the regions is expected to correct this in a timely manner, before the long awaited LGE takes place in Guyana.