The Department of Environment will serve as a watchdog body over the extractive industries of Guyana.
Amid concerns about the necessity of this decision, President David Granger justified the move to delink this department from the Natural Resources Ministry, explaining that it would be counterproductive to have the entity charged with reaping the best from the extractive sectors also be tasked with protecting the environment.
He was at the time responding to questions from local journalists on the recent broadcast of the weekly telecast ‘The Public Interest’.
“The Department of Environment is meant to optimise the work of several units. We want to create a clearer division between the extractive industries…so the Department of Environment will be a watchdog to ensure the extractive industries do not do damage to the environment,” Granger emphasised.
The Parliamentary Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had raised concerns about the establishment of this department. PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had ridiculed the decision, noting that the government continues to demonstrate utter ineptitude in the management of the country.
She had also contended that these constant shakeups in the public service will only undermine the sector.
“They (public servants) like to know where they are, they like to know their supervisors, they like continuity, they don’t like that one morning you wake up and you are with this minister, the next morning you wake up and you’re with another minister and then suddenly you are moving back; you then find yourself making arrangements to move to another building and then suddenly you moving back to another building. This is a recipe for disaster in a public service,” she stated.
Teixeira added that the situation could also arise where important files go missing as a result of the numerous moves.
Furthermore, former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall pointed out that this move will result in financial chaos in the accounting system.
“Because we had a national budget where the National Assembly approves line items situated under a particular ministry and now it is cut in half or quarter and transferred over…there are financial implications on how they will account for the money and without parliamentary scrutiny. That is why these abrupt changes are minimised because it leads to mismanagement,” he explained.
At a post-Cabinet press conference on July 27, State Minister Joseph Harmon disclosed that the move to remove overview of the environment sector from the Ministry of Natural Resources was to lessen the responsibilities which lie on the shoulder of the subject Minister Raphael Trotman.
He explained that in so doing, it will alleviate potential conflicts which often exist between the simultaneous management of the extractive industries and the environment.