GECOM Chairman must do better

first_imgDear Editor,The unilaterally appointed Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Retd) James Patterson, recently presented an open challenge for anyone to dispute that GECOM is the best run bureaucracy in Guyana. This and the many disappointing published statements from the Chairman present very distressing signals that he woefully misunderstands his role in advancing the ideals of the organisation.It is indeed very questionable that the Chairman sees GECOM as a bureaucracy. Foremost, the organisation ought to be demonstrative of the broadest levels of transparency in advancing the ideal of its constitutional mandate — that of a democracy.Equally opposite, however, the definitions of bureaucracy confirm on one side “a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives”; and on the other, “an excessively complicated administrative procedure that is seen as characteristic” of the term.The situation is certainly worthy of query, as it drives two obvious questions. Is the Chairman indicating that he is leading GECOM under the influence of state officials and the Government? Or is he suggesting that he is likely to advance a most complicated path?One would be hopeful, for the sake of all Guyana, that the intent of the Chairman is not misconstrued as expressed; and that simplifying the operational mechanisms in a fair and transparent framework would be the order of his pursuit. Our citizens need and demand this much.There have been recent recognisable conflicts and walk outs of meetings of the Commission. These resulted from disagreements by the Chairman over questions raised, in particular by Opposition Commission Members, who actual function as representative of constituencies of people. In the context, it is obviously logical to question the Chairman’s apparently eroding and ageing grey matter, thinking, actions and pronouncements. In fact, statements about best run just cannot be qualified, for many obvious reasons.The image of GECOM has been significantly tarnished by the exposure of a number of inept practices of persons in control of operational administration. The 2015 National and Regional Elections are under scrutiny via an Election Petition in the Court. It is also public knowledge that there were 33 fake statements of poll which the former GECOM Chairman, Steve Surujbally, saw no reason to question, or to ascertain the facts of how they got in the system.Audits were conducted at GECOM following the 2015 General Elections. The eminent Auditor General’s Office prepared three reports based on its investigations into the procurement of radios, pliers, batteries, toners and other accessories, and found that more than one hundred million dollars ($100M) had been spent, but cannot be properly accounted for. These allegations of fraud must be taken seriously.Justice James Patterson (retd) took the reins as GECOM Chairman last year October. He has on his desk the Auditor General’s report that detailed the allegations of procurement irregularities at the Commission. Although Auditor General Deodat Sharma insisted that the Commission turns the report over to the Police, the Chairman of the Commission is blatantly declining to allow the law to take its course.Guyanese must be fully cognisant that the Commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the integrity of the accounts of GECOM. Hence they must take full responsibility to make sure that accountability; transparency; and, above all, trust must be the order of the day.After the initial Office of the Auditor General’s report, there was a management letter sent to the Elections Commission. Are the Management and the Secretariat the same? Do we have a copy of the response by the Election Commission to the report prior to the publication of the report of the Office of the Auditor General?Reports emanating from the various registration centres are suggesting that the verification process after completing a registration transaction were delayed. This is despite it being clear that such activities must be completed within 48 hours. On the other hand, GECOM must be flexible to conduct the verification exercises after working hours, to accommodate persons who are working and have to be on the job at the same time that the exercise is been conducted.Other reports suggest that there is another round of spending extravagance as funds are exhausted in the name of GECOM for accrued expenses that have nothing to do with registration or elections preparations and management.The Chairman must do better and stop trying to defend the obvious anomalies. He must fix them!Sincerely,Neil Kumar J.P, MP.last_img read more

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