ERC produces evidence of work done, but Speaker disappointed by lateness

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Asserting that it has done the work it was appointed to do over the last three years, the members of the now expired Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) on Monday handed over evidence of its work to Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir.

The documents handed over included annual reports for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020, along with a report of recommendations and concerns that will be used to guide the work of the next Commission.

Former ERC Chairman John Smith said while some people believe the body did nothing during those years, the reports will prove differently.

“Some had a lot to say…but I am happy they [the print media] are here so that they can view the handing over and the work that was done,” he said.

Speaker Nadir commended the Commission for the work done over the last three years and said he would be happy to read the recommendations.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir (third right) makes a point during the presentation on Monday (News Room photo/September 20, 2021)

The report will be made public after it is laid in the National Assembly. Sittings of the Assembly will reconvene on October 10, 2021, when the current recess period ends.

The Speaker does have some concerns, however, and it has to do with the lateness in submitting reports, not only by the ERC, but several other Commissions.

“Had I been a sitting elected member and I don’t see a report for the year prior I would have been objecting to the budget for the next year.

“If you are falling behind, then hire a consultant ad hoc to ensure we meet our deadlines,” the Speaker said.

He observed that the ERC is a “very serious commission” and said that while it may not solve the problems of the people immediately, through persistent work and dialogue change will be effected.

The ERC is a Constitutional, non-political body that was established to promote ethnic harmony and security in Guyana.

The genesis of the ERC lies in the Herdmanston Accord signed on January 17, 1998, that provided for the establishment of a Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC).

The CRC in its Report to the National Assembly on July 17, 1999, recommended that the Constitution shall establish an adequately-funded, suitably broad-based Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) comprising representatives of religious bodies, labour movement, the private business sector, youth and women.

The Commission operated for a number of years up until 2011 when it became inoperable. After a seven-year hiatus, the ERC was reconstituted with the swearing-in of 10 new Commissioners on February 22, 2018, by former President David Granger.

Dr. Irfaan Ali, after nominations, is now tasked with the swearing-in a new ERC.

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