“Unsubstantiated” claims of ethnic imbalance breaks up important GECOM meeting

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A disagreement between opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner, Robeson Benn, and the GECOM Chair, James Patterson resulted in the discontinuation of an important meeting on Tuesday.

Commissioners Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin, and Desmond Trotman spoke to members of the media in the yard of GECOM’s High Street Office Tuesday afternoon and defended the Chair’s decision to discontinue the meeting.

Alexander said it was an “important decision-making meeting” and he does not believe the “meeting should have been adjourned and the matter was handled as it should.”

Alexander explained that the meeting ended abruptly when the issue concerning an ethnic imbalance was raised where Benn claims that there were more Afro-Guyanese employed at GECOM than Indo-Guyanese.

The Chairman challenged Benn to provide the statistics to support his conclusion but according to Commissioner Vincent Alexander, the Chair also countered the argument by providing stats which show differently.

Justice James Patterson

Benn claimed in a statement, however, that he was interrupted from explaining his position and was not being recognized by the Chairman which forced him and the other two opposition nominated commissioners to walk out.

Alexander also refuted Benn’s claims, saying that there was no way to truly tell the ethnic makeup of GECOM’s staff, positing that Benn’s claims were unsubstantiated.

“The culmination of that impasse today caused the Chairman to adjourn the meeting because he told him that he will not continue to allow him to disrupt the meeting and will only engage him when he is speaking to issue on the floor.”

Alexander said Benn was challenged to provide facts and evidence that there were more Africans employed at GECOM more than any other race but he could not provide statistical evidence

“The fact of the matter is from the moment the Chairman assumed office there has been a disconnect and sometimes disruptive interaction coming from a particular commissioner that may have culminated today,” he added.

A statement from the opposition nominated commissioners insisted that Benn had attempted to explain his position but was prevented by the Chair from doing so and the meeting was adjourned.

“Upon resumption, the Chairman announced that Commissioner Benn would not be recognized and therefore prevented from participating in the remainder of the meeting.  We were therefore forced to walk out of the meeting,” the statement added.

The statement further noted that the PPP Commissioners view this as a blatant attempt to censure and muzzle discussion on critical and important issues at the Commission in general, and in particular contributions on issues regarding ethnic diversity in hiring practices at the Commission.

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