AFC to push Constitutional Reform, Campaign Financing legislation

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Today marks three years since the coalition won the 2015 General Elections. One of its campaign promises is Constitutional reform and the Alliance For Change (AFC) believes that Constitutional Reform can be achieved over the next two years.

Executive member of the party, David Patterson expressed disappointment at a news conference on Friday that the matter has not progressed as fast as expected but said it is one of the nine issues listed to be discussed with its coalition partners.

“We recognize that we can do better, we recognize that it should be one of the major issues which we have, inter-party wise to see if there are any issue that we can clear before we get to the assembly and we have made it one of our nine priority points for discussion,” Patterson said.

Patterson is confident that every political party will support constitutional reform change.

The fact that the National Assembly has not been meeting as often, has also hindered the process from moving forward, chairman of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan told reporters.

“That has stalled the process somewhat but, as we had indicated in a prior press conference, that we are going to as fast as possible ensure the passage of that Consultation Bill,” the Chairman said.

He noted that efforts will be made to fast-track the passage of the Constitutional Reform Consultative Commission Bill which was tabled in June 2017.

The Bill paves the way for a 15-member commission which will be responsible for receiving submissions from persons for the assist the Parliamentary Standing Committee. One hundred consultations, according to the Bill, are to be held countrywide.

He added that the process can also be fast-tracked by having persons make written submissions on parts of the constitution which they wish to see changed.

“We have our views, APNU will have their views –and we hope that they coincide, and so will the People’s Progressive Party. But Constitutional reform also means consulting the human rights association, consulting farmers and so many other people and let them [have] a say and I am certain they too will see some of the benefits of the proposed amendments that we have and they can come up with their ideas too. That process can be fast-tracked by virtue of what they have to say [is] given in written form and so on,” Ramjattan explained.

Another area that the AFC said it is actively pursuing is Campaign Financing. Ramjattan said The Commonwealth is being engaged to draft a proper stringent Bill to govern Campaign Financing.

With the production of oil slated for the 2020- the same year in which Guyana will see its next General and Regional Elections – former Chairman of the Alliance For Change and a Director of the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA), Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes had warned that oil companies could fund election campaigns in exercising leverage over the country’s political landscape.

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