By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman has dismissed claims by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo that the Ministry of Social Cohesion is taking over the constitutional responsibilities of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC).
Jagdeo earlier in the week called on President David Granger to swear in the Commissioners, but Trotman made it clear that the APNU+AFC administration has every intention to get the ERC up and running again.
As a matter of fact, the government intends to table a motion, which seeks to have the 11th Parliament endorse the ERC list of nominees which was agreed to in the 10th Parliament.
“We’re examining whether or not…the PPP would agree to a process whereby the 11th Parliament could endorse the list, produced by the 10th Parliament; if not we have to start the process all over again,” Trotman said, noting that it took the Parliament months to agree to the ERC nominees.
“We are in receipt of legal opinion which says that we have to restart the process, which is unfortunate because it took months to build consensus around a few nominees that were nationally acceptable. We would hate to have to restart that process but because the President in the last administration failed to appoint the members, the question is can the President in the 11th Parliament go and pick up a list generated by the 10th Parliament and enact it. We are seeking a second opinion, hoping that can point the way forward,” the Governance Minister said.
He pointed out that one of the last acts of the 10th Parliament was to actually name the Commissioners but from July 10, 2014 up until the prorogation of Parliament in November 2014, the then PPP government made no move to swear in the Commissioners.
“The Donald Ramotar administration made no step whatsoever to appoint the persons at the Parliament, including members of the PPP/C who were part of the committee, had worked to produce that list. So I find it strange that for whatever reason then, the PPP did not find favour with its own list…all of a sudden now, this list is being waved around and you’re being dared,” Trotman told a post cabinet media briefing on September 09, in response to questions.
He reiterated that if the Opposition Leader agrees to the motion, which seeks to endorse the list, then the government will proceed.