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Canada signals readiness to help with Local Government Elections,Sovereign Wealth Fund

Canadian High Commissioner, Pierre Giroux (left) in talks with Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

Canada has expressed its willingness to support the Government of Guyana with the holding of Local Government Elections (LGEs), the setting up of the  Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and the training and development of Public Servants.

The Ministry of the Presidency said those committments were communicated to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon by Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana,Pierre Giroux, at a meeting held Tuesday morning at the Ministry of the Presidency.

Noting that the two countries share a good relationship, the High Commissioner told Minister Harmon that the Government and the people of Canada stand ready to assist in the holding of the much anticipated LGEs. This assistance, he said, will be providedthroughthe deliveryof machines for the electronic counting of votes to ensure an efficient delivery of the results. 

This announcement was welcomed by Minister Harmon, who noted that the holding of LGEsis a priority to the new administration.

“The Government of Canada has always been helpful to us.We have fortified the belief that we really need local government elections so that the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and the Regional Democratic Councils can function properly,” the Minister of State said.

The Minister added that Government recognises that there is a need for more efficient delivery of results from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). 

“There is a need for us to have a more responsive system. We’ve always had problems in the past because of delayed results. This is something we would like to aggressively pursue. It is the view of the President that whatever we can do to reduce the time taken to release elections results, we need to do it. We are happy for the support Canada has given in this regard,” Minister Harmon told the Canadian High Commissioner.

On the same note, Minister Harmon took the opportunity to also brief the High Commissioner on a meeting held yesterday with the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Dr. Steve Surujbally, where he said information on the preparations process was shared.

In the meantime, the Diplomat related that the University of Calgary, based in Canada, would soon dispatch a team to Guyana to meet with the Government for discussions on the setting up of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) for the Natural Resources and the Oil and Gas Sector.

High Commissioner Giroux also disclosed that the team would undertake a study of the legislative policies in place to see how best they can be improved to suit the Oil and Natural resources sectors.

Further, the Government of Canada, through the High Commissioner, has offered a training programme, which would benefit Permanent Secretaries and Heads of State Agencies in areas such as department management, best practices and accountability.  

Minister Harmon expressed his thanks on behalf of the Government for this gesture, noting that the programme will go hand in hand with the mandate of the Public Service Staff College, slated to be opened later this year.

“This offer comes at a time when we are about to establish a Public Staff College and so we would like to explore this opportunity. We want to have well trained public servants who understand that they need to need to serve the public and do so well,” Minister Harmon said.

The two officials have committed to regular meetings to discuss other possible areas of collaboration.