Last Updated on Monday, 1 May 2023, 15:51 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Monday- May 1- urged parliamentarians to pass several new laws that will force the government and the opposition to work together for the approval of National Budgets by a supermajority, and involve civil society in national decision-making.
Addressing the 2023 May Day Rally at the Critchlow Labour College (CLC), GTUC General Secretary Lincoln Lewis said the time has come to pass a law to make the national budget process inclusive of both government and the opposition. “The Appropriation Bill should not be passed in the National Assembly. by less than 60% of the elected members which will necessitate inclusionary democracy and cooperation in fact, across the political divide,” he said.
The governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) had in recent weeks restated its decades-old position that trust needs to be developed with the now main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the latter party needs to eschew electoral malpractices. In recent weeks, the PNCR has been accusing the PPPC of forging the names of many deceased and emigrated persons as nominators/backers for candidates in the June 12, 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE).
In a country where allegations of racial and political discrimination against Afro-Guyanese are rife, the GTUC called for the passage of special legislation to guarantee fair treatment and access to resources. “Legislation to realize affirmative action, including permissions to ensure equity in employment opportunities in the public and private sector, the awarding of government contracts access to education and other social economic benefits,” he said.
Mr Lewis also said inclusionary democracy should extend to the funding of administrative regions whose allocations should include a percentage of their own revenue rather than having all the earnings being deposited in the Consolidated Fund and then allocated by the Ministry of Finance. “We cannot have this situation where a group of people believe that they will take all the money in Georgetown and they will continue to see what you will get what or if you will get in in the region,” the veteran trade unionist said.
Also, in the area of inclusionary democracy, the GTUC asked parliamentarians to pass legislation to realise the intent of Article 13 of Guyana’s Constitution by increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organization in the management and decision making processes of the state with particular emphasis on these areas of decision making that directly affect their well-being. The PPPC administration is on record as constantly questioning the legitimacy of civil society organisations and activists on the grounds that the electorate has not voted for them.
The GTUC General Secretary also demanded that government appoint all Constitutional Commissions such as the Human Rights Commission with competent persons.
Reiterating the GTUC’s support for cash transfers from oil revenues, Mr Lewis said Distinguished Economics Professor Clive Thomas’ suggestion of an annual cash transfer of GY$1 million per year. He also recommended the abolition or reduction in income tax.
Mr Lewis said a section of the NIS law that provides for the payment of unemployment benefits must be activated and the injection of funds into that social security entity which has been in financial trouble for some time now.