In 2017, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan stood proudly in the National Assembly and revealed the Government’s agenda for Constitutional Reform.
During that year, the economist told the nation that “several consultations” on the constitutional reform process were held; that government fostered partnerships to promote transparency and impartiality, and it also laid the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission Bill in Parliament. Jordan said that the draft legislation was engaging the attention of a special select committee in 2017. But that very committee, which was supposed to complete its work this year, is far from doing so.
This was confirmed today with Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.
Isaacs said, “Had the work of the Committee been completed on time, there would have been further deliberations and a subsequent passage of the Bill by the House. This would have paved the way for a Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission by latest, say the first quarter of 2019 as the Government had planned.”
This news agency understands that the Commission will be mandated to do extensive work with the people of Guyana in every administrative region to ensure an inclusive and transparent process for Constitutional Reform. It will also gather information for the reform process, and put its reports and recommendations to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform.
The substantive process of constitutional reform can only commence when the draft legislation has been passed and assented to. While Jordan had promised that this would have been completed in 2018, no explanation on why this was not done was provided on Monday when he delivered his 2019 budget.
Instead, the economist repeated as he did in three previous budgets, that his government “is keen on fulfilling the promise of Constitutional Reform.”
The politician said that the Government remains hopeful that the bi-partisan Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform will conclude its review of the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission Bill, which was referred to it by the National Assembly over a year ago.
Jordan said that Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo has been, and will continue to spearhead, Constitutional reform with the full support of the Government.
He said, “We have allocated some resources in Budget 2019 to mount a survey and an awareness programme, in partnership with the University of Guyana and others. The survey will seek to assess the current understanding of constitutional reform by the general populace and their expectations, while the awareness programme will aim to stimulate a grassroots participatory approach to the entire process.”