The government is moving to set up the long-delayed parliamentary oversight committee for the security sector.
Attorney General Doodnauth Singh yesterday tabled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2009 in the National Assembly.
The Bill is to amend the Constitution by inserting a new Article 119 D, providing for a Standing Committee called the “Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Security Sector” having responsibility for the policies and administration of the country’s disciplined forces.
The committee has been in gestation for some time and opposition parties PNCR-1G and AFC have criticised the government for foot-dragging on its establishment.
It is in keeping with an agreement made by National Stakeholders during security consultations in March last year. The creation of the committee was also listed as a priority in the Security Sector Reform Action Plan, in which the British government imposed parliamentary oversight as a condition of its assistance to Guyana.
The original recommendation was made by a Special Select Committee reviewing the report of the Disciplined Forces Commis-sion.
It had been the subject of discussion at the level of the Parliamentary Management Committee, where there was disagreement over the issue of ministerial representation on the oversight body as well as the number of members.
Although ministerial representation was recommended, there was concern over a proposal that it be chaired by the Home Affairs Minister. It was argued that the ability of the oversight body to fulfil its mandate would be hampered by an appointment that would likely pose a conflict of interest.
Meanwhile, government originally proposed that the committee have five members but opposition members recommended that it be expanded to seven members, in keeping with the size of the other sectoral committees.
There are currently four sectoral committees responsible for economic services, social services, natural resources and foreign relations.