RDC impasse: when will it end?
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, October 21, 2017
There seems to be no end in sight for the stand-off within the Region Five, Regional Democratic Council (RDC) between Regional Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal, PPP, and Regional Executive Officer (REO), Ovid Morrison.
When Region’s RDC monthly statutory meeting was called on October 19, it lasted no longer than five minutes with the APNU+AFC councillors walking out of the meeting, followed by the Clerk of Council, who is also the Regional Executive Officer.
The meeting had been called to order at approximately 10:02 AM, by the Chairman, and the Clerk led in prayers after which the National pledge was recited. The next item on the agenda was announcements, and members presented reasons for those absent. Then, Councillor Abel Seetaram took to the floor; he announced that in the wake of the Chairman’s failure to present to the house, a report querying his dealing with a correspondence pertaining to the fifty thousand dollars housing rebate, at an earlier meeting. Members of the Coalition would not be sitting in at any meeting until such time as Chairman Ramphal presents to members his report on the issue.
Following the announcement made by Councilor Seecharran, REO Morison the Clerk of the house rose and addressed the chairman, stating that since Chairman Ramphal had not yet presented the report of his findings from the investigations he was supposed to have conducted, he, Morison, will not attend meetings unless Chairman Ramphal presents his report to the house as promised.
It all began back in April this year when at the statutory meeting of the RDC, Councillor Abel Seetaram, reported to the Council, a situation where machinery which was assigned to the Region, under the Regional Executive Office’s (REO) supervision, was allegedly diverted to do unauthorised works for the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Bath Neighborhood Council, NDC. Councillor Seetaram also informed the House that he had reported the allegation to the REO, who sits as Clerk to the RDC, and that the REO had visited the area in question and had conducted some investigations. The Regional Chairman, however, in response to the Councillor’s report said that he would want to see evidence to support what the Councilor was reporting. Subsequently, when Councilor Seecharran attempted to have Chairman Ramphal make a decision on the matter, the Regional Chairman said in order for him to make any pronouncement on the matter he would have to see photographs, and that he himself would conduct an investigation and report to the house.
The statements made by Chairman Ramphal, caused REO Morison, Clerk of the house, to caution Chairman Ramphal, that he could not continue to sit in the meeting where his credibility was being challenged, without defending himself. To which Ramphal responded saying that Mr. Morison could leave the meeting if he so desired.
Morison promptly left, and on his way out declared that he would have to get a written apology from the Chairman. The public servants who would normally attend such meetings also followed the REO through the door.
Subsequent RDC meetings have been ephemeral, and not allowing the Council to deal with any matters. There are a number of committees: Agriculture, Works, Health, Finance, and Education to name a few, which would meet and report to the Council with recommendations which may be derived from policies adopted by the administration. However, the executive arm of the Regional Administration continues to function and so works are being carried out where necessary.
According to Chairman Ramphal, as a result of the present situation within the RDC works to be conducted may be done so without due scrutiny which could foster corruption.
When asked whether he knew of any case of corruption, or whether he suspected corruption in any area, Chairman Ramphal declined any further comment on that issue. However, he admitted the present impasse is denying the Region the kind of service to which it is entitled. Despite this, he was not willing to say whether he would be prepared to extend the olive branch to the other side of the house.
REO Morison, in an invited comment, said that he is prepared to withdraw his demand for an apology from Ramphal, but he is adamant that the Chairman must present to the house the findings of his independent investigations into the allegations that machinery was diverted to carry out unauthorised works.
By: Bertie Peters