THE Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform has been established with prominent Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes as its convenor.The six-member Committee has until December to submit a report on the modalities and scope of its work to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
The other members of the committee are Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams; Professor Harold Lutchman; Secretary of the last Constitutional Reform Commission Haslyn Parris; and Attorneys-at-Law Gino Persaud and Geeta Chandan-Edmond.
PM Nagamootoo, as well as Paris, had worked on the Constitutional reform process that ended in 2000, a process that put forward some 164 recommendations.
Leading up to the May 11 elections, Constitutional reform was a main issue on the APNU+AFC agenda. Prime Minister Nagamootoo said the Administration is following through on its promise by putting the matter on the front burner.
It is one of those issues, he said, that the Government intends to address sooner rather than later.
“The Steering Committee will tell us about the scope of work and the priority areas to be reformed and how the reform process will do its work,” the Prime Minister told reporters at a briefing.
The briefing was held following a meeting with members of the committee at his office, located within the complex of the Ministry of the Presidency, on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo explained that the Committee will not bring in any reform, pointing out that the Committee is at the preparatory stage to define the scope of work as well as certain timeframes and modalities of the constitutional reform process.
He also noted that the Opposition party and civil society would be fully involved in the work of the Constitutional Reform Commission that would happen after the preliminary report is submitted.
After the Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform submits its report, the Prime Minister will put forward the recommendations herein to the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Parliamentary Affairs before reporting to Cabinet on the recommendations going forward.
Nagamootoo also noted that previous efforts had brought in some very valuable work to reform the Constitution, and going forward, the reform will continue, as the Constitution is a “living” instrument.
Hughes, the Convenor of the Steering Committee in a brief comment said the Committee will be tasked with making recommendations to the Prime Minister and he is honoured to work with the members of the Committee.
Professor Lutchman was also pleased to be given the opportunity to contribute to the development of Guyana and was hopeful that the outcome of the reform process will be to the true benefit of all Guyanese.
Attorney General Williams, who spoke with the media earlier, said constitutional reform was a major plank of the APNU+AFC manifesto at the last elections.
And he suggested that the nation would go to referendum if the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) does not support the process.
On assuming power following the May 11 elections, the Administration set up a parliamentary sub-committee on constitutional reform chaired by the Prime Minister. Through this Sub-Committee, the Steering Committee was established.
By Tajeram Mohabir