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State Board appointees were not handpicked, to revise appointment guidelines- says govt

by Zena Henry

Government in its defense has dismissed charges that it handpicked persons to sit on the varying Boards that head various state agencies.

With the appointment of the new A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government, many state boards were put on hold for “necessary” reshuffling.

However, the government has come under stiff criticisms; that apart from alleged “witch-hunting” of so called “political appointees” they scrapped agency boards, only to put in their persons of choice.

Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman during a Cabinet briefing Wednesday July 5 categorically denied this saying that the relevant persons were invited to submit names for the varying Boards; taking into consideration that, “many Boards by statute must have representatives from certain agencies.”

Trotman acknowledged criticisms about the lack of gender or ethnic balance. He noted however, that in Board appointments, the “old guidelines” were applied, but Cabinet recently decided that they will bring “shortly” new guidelines, “because we realize that the old guidelines can put us in political jeopardy.”

Another point that highlighted the government allegedly handpicking Board members was that some appointees said they were only aware that they were on Boards days before their appointments. However, Trotman said that although it might appear that these persons were handpicked, all of those chosen had expressed earlier interest to serve in those capacities.

He said, indeed some of the people were spoken to just before their appointments but “all of the people who were chosen had expressed an interest in the past… saying that they were available. So in our rush to appoint these Boards, notice may have been short but no one whose names were proposed had been a person that had not indicated in the past that he or she had desire to serve on a board or elsewhere.”

They were then appointed after giving their approval. One of the contentions made about one Board came from the Rice Producers Association (RPA) that none of their nominees were placed on the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB). Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder dismissed the RPA claim saying that two of their members were on the Board before naming all the members.

The Boards in question are extremely important as overseeing bodies for various state agencies. Allegations were that many of the Boards had become politicized by “political appointees.” Government reasoned that this was enough to cease the work of all Boards for reassessment.

The opposition has stated however that the dismantling of the Boards without swift re-establishment was is of the factors contributing to a deemed “slow economy,” because the work of the agencies are basically in slow motion.

The new guidelines, Trotman spoke of could cause some reshuffling of current members in the future, he said.