PM wants GYD$80 million for constitutional reform consultations; international help pledged

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 November 2016, 15:22 by Denis Chabrol

FLASH BACK: Head of the steering committee on constitutional reform, Nigel Hughes (left) delivering the report to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

FLASH BACK: Head of the steering committee on constitutional reform, Nigel Hughes (left) delivering the report to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

Guyana is preparing the legislative and budgetary groundwork for constitutional reform  to begin next year, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said  Friday.

He told a news briefing at his Alliance For Change (AFC) headquarters  that he has asked for approximately GYD$80 million to be set aside in the 2017 National Budget to fund the establishment of a secretariat and the holding of countrywide consultations.

As much as 2,000 persons could be employed to forge ahead with constitutional reform that could take as much as two years.

Nagamootoo, whose portfolio includes governance, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have pledged to help Guyana with further reforming its 1980 Constitution. He explained that UNICEF has tagged its proposed “substantial sum” to help make Guyana’s constitution more protective of children.

“We would have a needs assessment team from the United Nations to see what is required to undertake constitutional reform and the needs assessment would also involve a financial assessment so that at some appropriate time other international donors and individual member countries could be approached and asked for assistance to carry through the constitutional reform process,” he said.

The Prime Minister said Constitution Consultative Reform Bill would soon be tabled in the National Assembly to kick-start the process. Asked how government intended to win buy-in from the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Nagamootoo said overtures would be made when the Bill is considered by the 65-seat law-making body. “At the time when I would have tabled the Constitutional Reform Commission Bill I would expect that there would be some consultation with the opposition in terms of the content of the bill because I would seek to have full support,” he said.

Nagamootoo said the reform of the constitution is in keeping with the AFC’s campaign promise to improve governance and “open up the door for greater consultative democracy and participation by all stakeholders including opposition parties.”

“We are on the road. It’s going to be easy. It’s going to be a very complex prolonged process but the Alliance For Change is determined that constitutional reform must be remain as its priority issue,” he said

A Constitutional Reform steering committee, headed by Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, has already dispatched a report to the Prime Minister for further consideration by Cabinet.