On Sunday, December 8, I was fortunate to catch a part glimpse of a TV clip showing the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment making one of his usual articulate presentations, this time explaining the coordinating policy role of the ministry, and providing insights into current and future mandates of, what he described as the ‘agencies’ under his ministry’s purview.
Even though the Minister responded with aplomb to questions posed, respectively by APNU’s Harmon and Roopnaraine, he led them to replicate his own imprecise descriptor of what are officially statutory bodies, even though emphasising that the named institutions were semi-autonomous and operated with the authority conferred by the relevant acts.
GGMC was one example quoted by the Minister, whose board met regularly and made independent decisions.
To attentive observers, this emphasis was important, as at the same time it served to raise questions about a recent press report regarding legal arguments as to whether or not GGMC is a ‘budget agency’ – the answer to which can be easily found in the National Estimates, 2013 approved by Parliament.
Appendix T lists the following Statutory Bodies under the purview of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ‒ Guyana Forestry Commission; Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; Guyana Gold Board; Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; Environmental Protection Agency; National Parks Commission.
To satisfy further interest the following are the 38 Budget Agencies listed on pages ix and x of the National Estimates of 2013:
The following may perhaps be regarded as enabling (or supportive) legislation:
● Mining Act No. 28 of 1989;
● Mining Regulations;
● Amerindian Act, Cap. 29:01;
● Local Government Act, Cap. 28:02;
● Environmental Protection Act No. 11 of 1996;
● Occupational Health and Safety Act 1997;
● Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, Cap. 99:08;
● National Insurance Act, Cap. 36:01;
● Convention of Occupation Safety and Health and the Working Environment;
● ILO R1710HS Recommendations.
The First Schedule to Act No. 9 of 1979 provides that:
“(1) The Commission shall consist of –
a) the Chairman, who shall be appointed by the Minister, but if no person is appointed, the Minister shall be the Chairman of the Commission
b) the Commissioner
c) not more than twelve persons appointed by the Minister.”
It is interesting that no mention is made of how the individuals at c) above should be referred to. However there is actual recognition of a Board.
Clause 3 (1) of the First Schedule provides for the positions of Deputy Chairman; Secretary of the Commission.
The Corporate Secretary is also Legal Adviser to the Commission.
Clause 5 (1) of the First Schedule states:
“The Commission may appoint committees as it may deem fit to examine and report to it on any matter arising out of or connected with any of its functions.”
But perhaps more convincing evidence of the fact as to whether or not GGMC receives any funding via provisions in the National Estimates, can be easily accessed from the Office of the Budget, Ministry of Finance.
Why would such a straightforward line of enquiry be overlooked?
E B John