Home Letters For $221 million, what did we get from the Ethnic Relations Commission?
At the end of the reign of the PNC — defeated in a no-confidence Motion in December 2018 and at the March 2, 2020 elections — Guyana has been more divided than the early racial riots of the colonial 1960s. The five months of the PNC trying to rig the election in front of the whole world, together with the many PNC protests, have created a climate of dissension, division and strife, bordering on civil unrest.
I think it was unwise for the new Government to approve $11+ billion for commissions without questions or debate, including the hefty sum of $221 million for the ERC, and funds for the Judicial Service Commission, which has not functioned recently. There should not be a blanket approval of paying out taxpayers’ money without ongoing reviews of whether we are getting our money’s worth from these commissions, and what is their transformational impact. Poor countries cannot afford to spend money wastefully, without ongoing evaluation and redesigning.
In light of editorials and numerous comments on Facebook blogs calling for the defunding of the ERC, and in light of my own call for the ERC to be replaced by a Diversity/Affirmative Action Commission, I decided to look deeper, and reviewed the ERC website and FB pages.
The Commission has 10 members – 5 blacks, 4 Indians and 1 Amerindian. The Secretariat has 23 blacks, 5 Indians and 1 Amerindian. Four of the 5 media monitors are blacks, and 1 appears to be Amerindian. There is a placeholder on the website for a Chief Executive Officer, but no information is provided, so it is not clear if there is one. Since employment is supposed to be an area of focus of the ERC’s work, they must have sensitivity to their own diversity in employment. They must model best practices. (They had done a study on “Employment Practices in the Public and Private Sectors in Region 4”).
The ERC’s website has 9 research reports – 2 from 2005 and 7 from 2007. There are no reports since 2007, but that can be because they may have done reports but not uploaded them, or no reports were done. Maybe the PRO will respond. I am only going by the evidence I see.
There were Annual Reports only for 2004-2007.
For other reports, there was one for “Public Consultation on the Perceived Needs of the African Community” (2007), “Perceived Needs of the Amerindian Community” (2008), “Perceived Needs of the Chinese Community” (2008), and a report on the “Inter/Intra Community Dialogue (2008). Don’t know if they had done a report on “Perceived Needs of the Indian Community.”
There was a 1-page newsletter of little substance (with mainly pictures) for May 2020. There was none for March and April 2020, nor any since May 2020.
The Calendar of Events has nothing.
In response to my call for scrapping the ERC as is, the PRO explained their work is hampered because they can’t track and find some bloggers. Could they not find Ms. Volda 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 I do not recall the ERC denouncing this. And how about GECOM refusing to give details about their hiring practices and the ERC doing nothing about that? Harmon wants Mr. Khan removed for saying groups should use sticks for self-defence, and the ERC promptly reprimanded Khan. The fastest thing the ERC has ever done is to reprimand Khan twice.
Barrington writes much nonsense, but gets no reprimand from the ERC. Why? How about The ERC Chair himself? 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.
The Chair has the right to invite whomever he wants to his party, but an ERC Chair needs to be sensitive to these things. I thought it was totally inappropriate and calculated to send some kind of message to the faithful.
I call on the Chair to resign now and/or offer explanations for that. The Chair is a busy man. He already has 2 other jobs: as head of his church and head of the denomination. ERC head is his third job.
In things that matter, the ERC has been missing in action. In its current form, the ERC is useless. That money could have repaved all the roads and concreted the drains in my village of Whim, and the Whim-Bloomfield NDC. That would have been money well spent.
Dr Jerry Jailall