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Industry/Plaisance NDC Overseer’s appointment above board- Local Govt Minister

Orlando Jardine

Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker has refuted claims made by residents of the Industry/Plaisance Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in respect of the newly appointed overseer, stating that he was selected fairly using a democratic process.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted Whittaker as saying that the residents were misinformed and misguided on the appointment of overseer, Orlando Jardine. On October 1, a small group of residents protested in front of the Industry/Plaisance NDC, over Jardine’s appointment and what they claim is the takeover of inherited land by the government.

But Jardine’s appointment, the Minister explained followed a standard required procedure implemented in all of the 65 NDCs. According to the Minister, the recent appointment of the Industry/Plaisance, Unity/Vereeniging and Ordnance overseers among others were all subjected to the same requirement. In fact, the Minister explained that the vacancies for these positions were altogether advertised by the Ministry in many of the national newspapers.

They were carried on August 24, 29 and 31 in the Guyana Times, Kaieteur News and Stabroek News and on the Government Information Agency (GINA) website, the Minister said. The position, which was open to all, had the same requirements; that the applicant must have five subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC), Grades One -Three, be at least 25 years, be computer literate, have previous work experience and a police clearance. The applicants for the positions were all shortlisted and interviewed by a panel comprising a representative from the Ministry, another from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), Region 4 and another from the respective NDC.

With regards to the Industry/Plaisance appointment, Minister Whittaker explained that eight persons applied for the position of the overseer, and the interviewing panel (that comprised representatives of the Ministry, the RDC, Region 4 and the Industry/Plaisance NDC, shortlisted five of these persons to be interviewed. However on invitation only two of the shortlisted, turned up to the interview and after consideration the panel determined that Jardine was the one most suitable for the position.

Jardine, among his other qualifications is a second year University of Guyana student pursuing a Diploma in Social Work. He also has accounting qualification and has work experience, working in a senior position.

Further, the NDC, based on its financial situation, could not meet the salary expectation of the second person that was considered for the position, the Minister said.

Minister Whittaker refuted the residents’ argument that Jardine should not have been chosen for the position as he is not from the area. He noted that contrary to what is being said there is no geographic restriction on who can be appointed overseer of an NDC.

“There is nothing that precludes any person from any part of the 83,000 square miles of Guyana applying for that position. What is being painted out there is intended to convey that the overseer for Industry/Plaisance must come from Industry/Plaisance.” the Minister said.

 Minister Whittaker said that it is in fact desirable to have an overseer from within the community, but once he/she meets the requirements/ qualifications for the position.

He explained that this was in fact the case with regards to Deborah Mc Dowell. Mc Dowell, an assistant overseer, residents felt was overlooked for the position.

But, Minister Whittaker explained that although Mc Dowell has 15 years of experience within the NDC, she in fact has only been acting in the position for two months; contrary to the impression being given that she has been acting in the position for longer.

Mc Dowell who started out as a typist clerk within the NDC moved on to the position of a rate collector, then market clerk, then assistant overseer and for the past two months, overseer acting. The panel, as well looked at all of this including Mc Dowell’s qualifications and experience before deciding on selecting Jordon, the Minister said.

“We cannot set requirements, set standards and compromise those standards. We cannot repose confidence in a set of people to view potential employees, and having done that say to them without good cause that we do not respect and cannot accept your recommendation,” Minister Whittaker said.

He furthered that the person who the press were told have many CSEC subjects, have to be premised on the belief that Grade 4 at the CSEC is a pass. He said that whilst this candidate has a couple of subjects at Grade Four, which might be suitable for employment in some areas, it was not suitable for the requirement of the position as advertised by the Ministry.

 Minister Whittaker also addressed the issue of the land dispute, noting that contrary to what is being said, the land under question is in fact owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation, which in fact has no intention to sell it, but instead is now clearing it for use.

The Minister noted that what has happened is that no one bothered to verify what obviously is a rumour, but proceeded to spread such around the village.