GECOM Commissioners in Canada to oversee ballot printing
…Govt Minister admits to meeting with same company
As the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) continues its preparations for the upcoming March 2 General and Regional Elections, two Commissioners are currently in Canada to oversee the printing of the ballot papers.
Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Sase Gunraj, and Government-nominated Commissioner, Charles Corbin, travelled to Canada to observe the printing of the ballot papers for the upcoming polls.
This is being done by printing firm, Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, which first supplied GECOM with elections materials at the 2018 Local Government Elections (LGEs).
The two Commissioners will be in Canada until the production of the ballots is completed. They will also be engaging in other elections-related matters with the company.
Only last week, it was revealed that 11 parties have been approved by GECOM to contest the upcoming polls, which is less than six weeks away. A total of 13 parties had initially made submissions to GECOM on the January 10 Nomination Day but the Guyana National Service Party and the National Independent Party did not meet the requirements and as such, were kicked out the race.
On Monday, the Opposition – People’s Progressive Party/Civic – raised concerns over a scheduled meeting between Finance Minister Winston Jordan and the Canadian printing company.
In a post on social media on Monday, the PPP/C said it was strange that Jordan, who is also a candidate on the National Top-Up List of the incumbent APNU/AFC, is expected to meet with the company at a time when it is engaged in producing ballot papers for the elections.
“We believe that Jordan’s engagement with the company at this time, during the production of ballot papers and other sensitive material relative to the holding of free and fair elections in Guyana represents, at a minimum, a serious violation of ethics,” the party stated.
To this end, the Opposition party is calling on GECOM as well as local and international observers to take note of this development.
The PPP/C is also urging the Canadian company to not engage Jordan at this time.
However, while Minister Jordan has confirmed that there is an upcoming meeting with CBN, he explained that the meeting was fixed since last year and has nothing to do with the electoral process. In fact, he noted that they will be meeting to discuss issues relating to the local lottery sector, where CBN holds a monopoly.
“We will have some discussions with them on the lotto,” Jordan told Guyana Times on Tuesday.
Canadian Bank Note owns the Guyana Lottery Company Limited (GLCL). According to the GLCL website, CBN is a company which supplies printed products and related issuing and control systems in four business areas: lottery systems, identification systems, payment systems and shareholder services.
He pointed out that the meeting with CBN, which is on Thursday, was fixed after the company reached to the Guyana Government.
According to the Finance Minister, there have been some developments in the lotto market and CBN wants a review of those developments that have been taking place in order to maximise their investments in Guyana.
“They have a contract with us which essentially gives them a monopoly in the market so they’re looking on at the developments recently and the court rulings, and they want to know what is the implications for them and their investments… Obviously, they invested quite a bit in the market and so on. So that’s why the meeting is a day or two days, if we can’t meet an agreement. But at the end of the day, we’re hoping to get some kind of understanding going forward…,” Jordan told this newspaper.
In addition to owning GLCL and getting the contract to print Guyana’s electoral materials, CBN also prints Guyana’s currency notes and recently got a US$12.4 million ($2.5 billion) contract to procure a new border management system to cater for e-passports. This was announced in September last year.