NCN official to be name new AFC MP

…previously accused of financial fraud

The National Communications Network (NCN) Berbice Manager, Donna Mathoo, is being considered as a possible replacement for Business Minister Dominic Gaskin as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Alliance For Change (AFC).

Business Minister Dominic Gaskin

Chairman of the AFC, Raphael Trotman, on Wednesday told the media that there has been deliberations within the party on a replacement for the post of the Business Minister, who resigned as a Member of Parliament because of his dual citizenship status.
Minister Gaskin was born in the United Kingdom. However, according to Article 156 (1) (a) of the Constitution states: “A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat therein if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her own hand addressed to the Speaker or, if the Office of the Speaker if vacant or the Speaker is absent from Guyana, to the Deputy Speaker”; while Article 156 (4) (a) says: “The Speaker shall declare the seat of a Member of the National Assembly vacant where – (a) the Speaker receives a written declaration of the Member of the National Assembly… or (b) the Representative of the List issues a notice of recall…”
As such, Trotman reiterated that this situation is somewhat different from other parliamentarians, who attained citizenship in another country after birth. Nonetheless, he said the AFC will comply with the requirement and Donna Mathoo is one of the persons being considered. Once confirmed, they will announce the individual selected for the ministerial post.

NCN Berbice Manager Donna Mathoo

“We are in the process of identifying a replacement who is suitable and we are examining the various lists and we will be making that announcement in due course. There are a number of persons who are eligible, Ms Mathoo being one of them, and so there is active consideration of appointing her,” the AFC Chairman stated.
The AFC executive mentioned that they are seeking to fill Gaskin’s position with someone who embodies competency, loyalty and delivers their time during parliamentary sessions. However, Mathoo was accused of being involved in fraudulent practices which reportedly saw over $3 million disappearing from the NCN’s coffers.
“We’re looking at competency, a person’s ability to represent us, their degree of loyalty if I’m to be upright… We look at their ability to attend sittings of the National Assembly… Looking at the near and longer-term, we need to take several matters into consideration,” Trotman related.
Mathoo was sent on administrative leave in 2017, and in March 2018, she was back on the job. The State-owned NCN has been silent on the outcome of an internal probe into the allegations.
Meanwhile, Trotman said Gaskin will continue to hold the post as Treasurer of the AFC and will serve in other capacities in the future. It was indicated that the Business Minister requested some weeks ago that he intended on resigning from his post and affirmation was given recently for this to take place.

Advocating for amendment
However, going forward, he said the party will lobby for an amendment of Article 155 of the Constitution, so that persons with dual citizenship can serve as parliamentarians. He is of the view that the oil sector will demand human resources, which can be achieved through the recruitment of persons in the Diaspora.
Apart from Gaskin, three other Government MPs namely Minister of State Joseph Harmon; Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge; and Public Service Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine have all resigned from their respective posts because of the dual citizenship rule.
In February, Chief Justice Roxane George had ruled on the case filed by Compton Reid over the dual citizenship of former AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandas Persaud. In the case brought to the Chief Justice, Government had argued that Persaud’s dual citizenship status invalidated his vote in support of the No-confidence Motion that brought the Government down.
The Court of Appeal later upheld the January High Court ruling that it is illegal for persons holding dual citizenship status to be sitting in the National Assembly.