Gov’t to begin negotiations to bridge Essequibo River, establish security agencies- President


President, David Granger during his address to the National Assembly on Thursday, committed to several projects, strategies and the passage of various legislations to improve the lives of Guyanese in 2017. This comes as the Government prepares to present its third National Budget since its election to office.


The Head of State announced that it will begin negotiations with national and international parties to build a bridge across the Essequibo River in as it seeks to improve aerodromes, bridges, roads and stellings in order to enhance communication between the hinterland and coastland.


The President also revealed that his administration is in the process of establishing a new National Anti-Narcotics Agency (NANA) to address the trafficking in narcotics. It will also establish a new National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) to ensure better surveillance of the nation’s borders and coasts.


Additionally, under the umbrella of security, the government has taken a decision to re-engage the United Kingdom with a view to restoring the aborted Security Sector Reform Action Plan (SSRAP).


“The Plan will commence soon with the arrival of experts from the United Kingdom to advise us on crafting a national security response to domestic and transnational crime – including narcotics-trafficking and gun-running” the Head of State said.


Under the telecommunications sector, he committed to having every government owned building connected to the internet including airports, hospitals, markets, police stations, post offices and schools.


As he outlines the Government’s legislative agenda for the next year, he noted that the legislations that will be changed and amended aim to protect the interests of Guyanese and promoting standards of probity in public office.


Among the Acts to be amended are the Integrity Commission Act which will provide for a revised Code of Conduct for public officials, inter alia, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation Act to strengthen the airport’s executive and operational functions and capabilities and the Marriage Act to put new procedures in place for non-nationals applying for a Special Marriage Licence.


Additionally, the Road Act (Amendment) Bill to place emphasis on the removal of derelict vehicles and impose weight limits will be tabled, the Immigration (Amendment) Bill to delink the Immigration Department from the Guyana Police Force, the National Registration (Amendment) Bill to guard against identity theft by allowing for inclusion of the biometrics of citizens to be recorded on their national registration cards and the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority (Amendment) Bill to provide for a change in membership of the governing board of the Deeds and Commercial Registries.


There will also be the State Assets Recovery Bill to establish a State Asset Recovery Agency to recover State property that has been unlawfully acquired, through civil proceedings, the Witness Protection Bill to protect certain witnesses and other persons, the Protected Disclosures Bill, referred to as the ‘Whistleblowers Bill,’ which aims at combating corruption and other wrong doing by encouraging and facilitating persons to make disclosures of improper conduct, the Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Bill to provide for the establishment of an authority to investigate aircraft accidents and incidents and the Industrial Relations Tribunal Bill which will provide, inter alia, for the establishment of an independent tribunal to settle industrial and labour disputes.


The Tobacco Control Bill will also be introduced to contribute to the protection of the health of citizens.


The President further committed to improving the professionalism of the public service in 2017 with the establishment of the Public Service Staff College. There will also be the convening of a Consultative Constitution Reform Commission.


(Caption; President David Granger addresses National Assembly as Parliament recommences after two months break)

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