PSC continues advocacy for establishment of commissions

PSC Chairman Norman McLean
PSC Chairman Norman McLean

chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Norman McLean on Thursday said the body remains committed to its advocacy for the establishment of several commissions.

These include the Public Procurement and the Ethnic Relations Commissions, as well as other commissions on children, gender and indigenous peoples. However, they remain non starters at the moment.

The new Administration had promised to get most, if not all of these commissions, up and running; however, there have been some major setbacks.

In December last year, Government began making moves to have the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) established by advertising through the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for stakeholders, political parties, civil organisations and individuals to submit names of persons eligible to be considered commissioners.

Since then, nothing further has been said or done.

While on the Opposition side of the house, the new Government was very critical of the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s approach to the distribution of contracts and had called out to the PPP/C to have the Public Procurement Commission established.

According to Guyana’s Constitution, the PPC shall consist of five members who shall have expertise and experience in the procurement, legal, financial and administrative matters.

The Procurement Commission is usually made up of Government and Opposition parliamentarians, and is traditionally chaired by a member of the Opposition in the House.

Government itself had come under fire for failing to establish the Procurement Commission earlier – a promise it made in its manifesto. The absence of the PPC had caused even more outrage against Government, particularly because of its move to carry out a number of forensic audits at State entities across Guyana, without carrying out the requisite tendering process.

Meanwhile, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is yet to be constituted. Government had said late last year too that it was awaiting a move from the Opposition.

During the 10th Parliament, the appointive committee had approved the names of nominees to be ERC Commissioners; however, despite the approval, their appointments were not assented to by former President Donald Ramotar.

Similarly, the Rights of the Child Commission, the Women and Gender Equality Commission and the commission on indigenous people are also yet to be established.

The last public call for the establishment of these commissions was back in early February 2015, by then Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman.

He had urged that outstanding aspects of the 2001 Constitutional Reform process be deepened to strengthen the work of the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC). According to him, the Constitution specifies that a Human Rights Commission and a Rights Tribunal be established, the existence of which he believed would give potency to the work of the RCC and its findings.

The RCC is one of several constitutional Rights Commissions that were established at the conclusion of the reform, which included the term limits for Presidents. The others are the Human Rights, Women and Gender, Indigenous Peoples and the Ethnic Relations Commission.