Letter: Retire ERC, replace with a Diversity Implementation Commission

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC)

Dear Editor,

I have noticed an article, “ERC produces evidence of work done, but Speaker disappointed by lateness.” Yippee, now President Ali has a blueprint for “One Guyana,” thanks to the hard work of the ERC, which has received over a billion dollars since its inception!

The ERC must be the poster child for a failed Guyana constitutional commission. You can’t do any worse. This year, they received $221 million to do what? What can they show for it? Guyana is most divided as ever. Would it not have been better to pave the 20 streets in my Whim Village, which voted overwhelmingly for the PPP? That would have been money well spent, and you would have something to show for it.

The failure of this Commission is not just the Chairman; it is a collective failure of the whole group. None of these people should be in any future Commission, including the two members writing letters to the editor pretending as if they were the conscience of the group before this Commission expired. I would say the new Government messed up when one of its first acts was to approve money for this totally useless outfit. Somebody, please put a sign on the door that says, “Dead, do not resuscitate.” I will not forgive this Government if it allows this Commission to continue.

To this group, St. Peter at the Pearly Gates would say, “Skip purgatory, go straight to hell.” Speaker Nadir said, “Had I been a sitting elected member and I don’t see a report for the year prior, I would have been objecting to the budget for the next year.”
What Guyana needs is to replace the ERC with a “One Guyana Diversity/ Affirmative Action Implementation Commission.”

The PNC should have no problem with that. Such a Commission must set specific annual targets and initiatives for ongoing diversification of state agencies, including the Police, military, teaching, nursing, educational opportunities, etc.

What is their record? Apart from awarding themselves six-figure Christmas bonuses and other perks, in things that matter, the ERC has been missing in action. ERC fiddled while West Berbice burned. For an organisation that should model diversity, the Secretariat staff is 75% of one ethnicity. ERC was silent when Ms. Volda uttered the worst statements anyone can make, and which I think was the lowest point of the PNC’s reign – the “New Declaration of Sophia” – “The only friends I got is PNC, so the only people I could give work to is PNC. And, right now, I looking for a doctor who can talk Spanish or Portuguese, and ah want one that is PNC.” I may have missed it, but do not recall the ERC denouncing this. And how about GECOM refusing to give details about their hiring practices and the ERC did nothing? During the 5 months of attempted PNC rigging, ERC was silent.

The Chair must explain why, just after the first fraudulent election results were announced and we were dealing with the rigging in court, the Ministry of the Presidency released several pictures of the Chair ushering in Mr. Granger to the Chair’s birthday party at the Ramada. What message was being sent?

ERC Commissioner Khan said, “I would like a serious Government audit”, and if possible, a direct audit from the Auditor General’s Office…In its current state, I am of the opinion, like most Guyanese, that the ERC has been a total letdown to the Guyanese nation and is not deserving of the funds they receive. In my opinion, they have accomplished very little. I believe what was done was insignificant and extremely limited to what could have been achieved.”

Blogger “Letel Prek” said, “Total bogus nonsense. The ERC is a hypocritical group of individuals who have selectively decided which cases of ethnic discrimination lack merit or are meritorious based on political clouds and party affiliation. Hope the door don’t hit them on their way out.” Jaikarran Singh said, “Stop fooling Guyanese with rubbish, just living off taxpayers who is suffering.” “Rasta Man” said, “Definitely there is urgent need for an entirely new nonpolitical ERC with a chairman who is bold and impartial, outspoken, courageous, and fully conscious of his portfolio.”

Dr Jerry Jailall