$92M spent on Law Reform Commission which is still not in operation
The Government is making swift attempts to save a multi-million-dollar Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-funded project which has exhausted more than $92M but has no work to show.
During a virtual press conference hosted on Saturday, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall disclosed that the IDB has threatened to discontinue the Law Reform Commission project since it has failed to comply with its schedule of work.
In 2016, the National Assembly passed the Law Reform Commission Bill which allowed for the establishment of the Commission.
The Commission was then established and in 2017, it was staffed with 11 members, earning $2.1M per month. The Commission is being housed in a rented building amassing a cost of $28M.
Nandlall revealed that the cumulative total expended so far on the project is $92M, but that there is no work to show for it since none of the seven Commissioners have been appointed thus stalling the work of the Commission.
“The Commissioners have not been appointed and the IDB is prepared to pull the project if it is not acted on swiftly,” he said, adding that the new PPP Government will be making efforts to swiftly address the matter.
“We will begin to move swiftly to establish this Commission, to appoint Commissioners… we plan to appoint quickly so as to not have the project pulled by the Bank, but we will, in due course, refashion the legislation so that the Commission can be constituted in a manner that reflects the best interest of the country,” Nandlall told reporters.
The legislation currently provides for the President to appoint the seven Commissioners but Nandlall believes that this approach is not in the best interest of specific groups and ultimately the country.
He explained that the composition of the Commission must reflect the population and the various interests in the population, and the nominees must, therefore, be made by specific groups.
Among those groups he mentioned are: the Guyana Bar Association, the Labour Movement, the private sector, the religious community, and the University of Guyana (UG), among others.
Nandlall also underscored the importance of the project to Guyana, noting that law reform is important in a modern developing country like this, to keep the legal architecture of the state up-to-date and up-to-standard.
Just last week, the AG revealed that Guyana was benefitting from an US$8M project on prison overcrowding, which the country did not know about.
Nandlall had expressed “deep regret” that since the commencement of the project in 2017, the public was not made aware of its nature, nor objective.