By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The National Assembly by a majority opposition vote, passed a motion piloted by Opposition Leader David Granger to establish a National Veterans Commission.
During the sitting of the National Assembly Thursday (November 21), Granger called for an examination of the current conditions under which veterans are forced to live and work after their retirement in Guyana.
He believes that such provisions and considerations are necessary locally while pointing to other special considerations given to such persons around the world.
“Persons who have given their youth to serve this country should not be forgotten when they have grown old,” the opposition leader implored.
He pointed out that such provision of services is nothing new since several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) already provide such relief – The Guyana Legion and the Ex-GDF Organization.
Granger said however, there is still the need for a national policy and possibly a Veterans Act.
“Veterans will also be with us and if we want our country to remain safe we must attract young servants and the best way to do that is to show them that at end of service respect and dignity is guaranteed,” the Opposition Leader added.
He also called for consideration to be made for the widows of veterans. Alliance for Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Catherine Hughes correspond her party’s support for the motion.
She assured that the role and commitment of veterans to the country have not waivered or diminished with time while pointing to the contributions of several outstanding veterans, particularly those females who have made their mark.
In explaining Government’s non-support for the motion, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said the Administration is no less concerned than the Opposition. He added that Government has consistently supported veterans through administrative, financial, constitutional, and parliamentary measures.
“We see the establishment of the commission as detraction from growing the economy … we all want to do good but we must first do well and have the wear it all to do good,” the PM told the House, adding that “this has been and will continue to be the focus of the government.”
He argued that the Government is not in a position to give such special considerations the opposition has asked for.
Prime Minister Hinds said the Government is concerned that the focus of the motion coupled with the other behavior of the opposition disconnects.
While contributing to the debate, Opposition Member of Parliament Winston Felix said veterans should be regarded as national assets rather than potential social liabilities.
He expressed the belief that Guyana should have a state appointed Veteran Commission to address health, welfare and economic conditions of veterans as is done in other CARICOM countries.
He proposed other special considerations like state funded educational programs and the provision of lands.