President reiterates call for professionals to be respected – as CPA Clerks and Presiding Officers meet in Guyana

Georgetown, GINA, October 28, 2013


President Donald Ramotar said public functionaries including the staff of the Parliament Office hold professional positions and should be made to feel comfortable instead of being subjected to unnecessary attacks.

The Head of State was at the time addressing delegates of the 16th Biennial Regional Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks of the Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Among those present at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) at the opening session was Opposition leader David Granger whose recent criticism of the Clerk of Guyana’s National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs about the four Local Government Bills had prompted a strong response.

Isaacs had described the Tenth parliament as the worst ever and had signalled to President Ramotar his desire to resign from that office. He is one of several who President Ramotar had said are subjected to attacks because they refuse to bow to opposition pressures.

“We cannot or should not take actions that will harm a country on the ground that it may help us politically. The danger is if people do not see or feel that things are changing for the better in their lives, they could become disillusioned,” President Ramotar said at the opening of today’s conference.

Under the theme “The role of parliaments as they meet the challenges of evolving democracies, the two- day conference will focus attention on the role of the Speaker in changing parliaments and protecting members’ privileges, resolutions as a force of law, parliamentary procedures, rules, conventions and practices.

Isaacs remarked that the issues on the agenda of the conference are common among legislatures in various nations, but particularly in Guyana’s parliament where there is a “unique” configuration.

Speaker of the Guyana National Assembly Raphael Trotman on the other hand took a humorous posture in his reference to the tenth Parliament, saying “I now have to count literally the hairs on my head to ensure that when I demit office I have some left.”

Granger on the other hand made reference to money laundering as among the new threats facing Commonwealth and Caribbean states even though his party is responsible for the delay in the passage of the anti-money laundering legislation.

The legislation is one which Guyana must pass to avoid being blacklisted for failing to conform to international financial crimes regulations.

Guyana now has up to November to pass the legislation or run the risk of jeopardising its financial institutions and systems and losing foreign investments and international capital flows.

President Ramotar, who had frequently called for an end to any attempt to undermine the re-tabled financial crimes legislation, reminded the gathering that the people’s interest comes first.

“As parliamentarians, we must be conscious that people at looking at how we behave, and how we react and how we promote the welfare of our people in the highest fora of our land. At all times I believe that we must keep the interest of our people in our focus,” President Ramotar said.

Having served as a People’s Progressive Party Civic Member of Parliament for many years, President Ramotar said Parliament is crucial to any country’s democracy and that legislators should bring clarity and educate the population.

With the establishment of the Parliamentary Select Committees in Guyana as an example the Head of State said also that the Parliament has a responsibility to promote inclusiveness and consultation.

Recently Guyana hosted a visit by Speaker of the National Assembly in Suriname Hon Dr. Jennifer Geerling Simmons and a team of legislators in the first of several efforts to build partnerships with legislatures in other countries.

Similar engagements are to be sought with parliamentarians in Venezuela, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.

It is a new initiative that Leader of the House in Guyana, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds spoke highly in favour of during his remarks today

“I think it (visit of Parliamentary legislators in Suriname) was very instructive for me, to see the differences in the way their Parliament is organised and run, following their own Dutch traditions, distinct from our English traditions, and also their own historical experience,” the Prime Minister  said.

The 16th Biennial Regional Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks of the Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is being attended by representatives of 14 member states.


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