by Zena Henry
Charged with the security concerns of the country, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramattan says that he is currently trying to settle in to his “complicated” Ministry, but the newly appointed head of National Security is already eyeing several important areas in his ministry where he believes investigations are warranted.
Among those are the areas of gun licensing and the issuance of work permits which in the past were alleged to be milking cows for some unscrupulous ones at the top of the security system.
The issuance of passports and citizenships were also areas to be probed by the Security Head, but these areas now fall within the ambit of the Ministry of Citizenship led by former Police Commissioner Winston Felix.
The Public Security Minister noted however that he is still getting comfortable with his new work environment and opted to provide a full media briefing on his activities next week, but he did acknowledge that investigations must be held into the areas were grave concern of corruption, in particular, were made in the past.
Ramjattan was reminded of the bitter complaints made by foreign nationals, specifically, Brazilian and Chinese nationals who grieved over long periods to get their work permits and even stay extensions, while money outside of what was legally required was being solicited.
There were unconfirmed allegations of persons, and in this case, Chinese nationals were most prominently accused, of paying for Guyanese passports, visas and citizenships. In other cases, it was alleged that persons were also buying gun licenses without the requisite requirements.
This, along with the smuggling of weapons from Venezuela and Brazil across Guyana’s porous borders were said to be leading causes of the increasing amount of weapons within the country. Within the new government’s 100-plan encompassed in their manifesto, promises of an amnesty period was put forward.
This is meant to encourage gun holders to turn in their unlicensed weapons without fear of prosecution. However, it is not clear whether these weapons will be tested as being part of gun crimes or whether they will be accepted with a blind eye. Ramjattan said all this will be dealt with at his upcoming press briefing.
As it relates to the investigations, he said, “All of these things have to be looked into, and that is why I have to settle in and get my team ready.”
The Minister of Citizenship did reiterate government’s commitment to establish passport and birth certificate licensing offices in Berbice, Essequibo and Linden as part of the 100-plan. While this would address the centralization of these services, the Minister did hint that investigations should be launched into the inconsistencies alleged under the former Home Affairs Ministry