City Council challenges Local Govt Commission’s refusal to approve appointment of top officials

Last Updated on Friday, 13 November 2020, 17:08 by Denis Chabrol

The Georgetown City Council is challenging the legality of a decision by the Local Government Commission (LGC) to refuse to appoint six officers of the city government’s administration although it had been given the right to advertise, interview and select persons  a committee had deemed fit for the positions.

In court papers seen by News-Talk  Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News, the Council is asking the High Court to set aside the LGC’s decision or compel that body to “consider and approve” the recommendations set out in the Special Human Resource Management Committee Report dated October 5, 2020 and approved by the Mayor and Councillors on October 9.

Based on the Municipal and District Council’s Act, by virtue of being the Town Clerk,  Ms. Sherry Jerrick is named as an appellant who is required by law to carry out the decisions of the Council. The Council , at a sitting of October 26, 2020 decided to challenge the LGC’s decision in court. The other appellant is the Mayor of Georgetown, Ubraj Narine.

The LGC refused to appoint Sherwin Benjamin as Town Clerk, Mr. Samuel Parris as – Assistant Town Clerk; Mr. John Douglas as – City Treasurer; Ms. Danielle Anthony as – Legal Officer; Mr. Kabila Hollingsworth as – Deputy City Engineer and Mr. Lyndon Scott as – Supervisor Building Inspector, although that Commission had delegated its authority to recruit to the Council..

The Town Clerk recalled in her affidavit that on July 3, 2020, LGC Secretary Nikalai Pryce had written to her giving the LGC’s permission to advertise existing vacancies in the municipality and two months later in September he had written a letter stating that the Commission “has agreed to delegate to you and all other local government organs, the authority of recruitment (advertising shortlisting and interviewing).

Further, Mr. Pryce states that the local government organs shall ensure that an LGC officer is present during the shortlisting and interviewing process. He also, according to Ms. Jerrick, urged the Council to comply with that method for the filling of several vacancies including Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable.

Interviews were conducted on September 24 and 25 by the Special Human Resources Management Committee and when the names of those approved were dispatched to the LGC, that body did approve them but instead stated that the current office holders would remain in place until the LGC is reconstituted. “The Local Government Commission (LGC) at the duly convened Extra Ordinary Meeting held on October 20, 2020, after much deliberation did not approve the appointment” of those persons and “as such, the LGC wishes to advise the Mayor and Councillors of Georgetown that the status quo remain the same until such time as Local Government Commission is reconstituted,” Mr Pryce said in a letter dated October 22.