The Minister of Home Affairs should form a committee to look at the draft bill on private security organizations

Dear Editor,
As a security service provider since 1979, I can see the reasoning behind wanting to establish an authority to govern security services in Guyana.  I believe in it.

As a matter of fact since 1998 the Guyana Security Association for Private Security Organizations (GAPSO), of which I am a co-founder, was lobbying the government to create such a body and establish laws to make security services credible and responsible.  I am the immediate Past President of GAPSO.  If my memory serves me right, it was Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who was holding the Home Affairs portfolio then, and Mr Laurie Lewis was then Commissioner of Police.  Mr Lewis played a significant role in the formation of GAPSO and also the draft act prepared by GAPSO.

GAPSO now has a new executive, and hence, in relation to the concerns raised in the media by the Minister of Home Affairs on the tabling of the law, it is not within my purview to speak on behalf of the association any longer. What follows, therefore, are my personal views.

I wish to state my disappointment that GAPSO has not responded to the Minister’s call.  While I am not referring to any GAPSO members, it is known that many security services do not fully comply with National Insurance and tax laws, especially those pertaining to PAYE deductions, as some agencies depend upon these to survive due to low rates in tendering procedures.  They have devised elaborate and at times amazing schemes to hoodwink the authorities, some of whose inspectors are known to be corrupt, as we see over and over with NIS.  Once NIS is cheated, the PAYE taxes are automatically cheated. As a result many security services do not want such a law or authority created.

At the hearing with the Minister at the Guyana National Service Sports Hall in Carifesta Avenue, I, as President then, presented on behalf of GAPSO, detailed guidance on what the act should look like, covering all aspects of the draft law, which had been prepared by mostly foreigners, having little or no understanding of Guyanese society, our culture and the realities of Guyana.  The Minister was extremely patient, and heard me out in detail, taking note of every point. A copy of my paper was presented to almost everyone present.  It was extremely comprehensive.  In the minutes to all attendees, the Minister described my presentation as “exhaustive.” I understand security in Guyana, having established RK’s in August, 1979.  I sat with a few interested members of GAPSO and discussed the points; they added to them, and I deleted some of my points before the presentation.

It is true the Minister appointed a body to address the matter fully after the meeting.  I simply cannot understand why the body is not meeting.  With the end of my statutory term, my appointment in the body came to an end, and the current President took my place.  I am surprised that the matter is not being vigorously pursued, for it is an act we fought for, we paid dear money to create an original draft with quality input taken from the Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica acts, when the association had little or none in its embryonic stage.

Mr Maurice Amres of GEB, the first President dealt with matter in a very dynamic manner.  He lobbied everyone in authority possible.  So did Mr Dougal Kirkpatrick of PGS, and when my term arrived several years later, I lobbied the Commissioners of Police, the Prime Minister, the Office of the President and the Attorney General.

I went to the media, and the various Ministers of Home Affairs.  Ms Gail Teixeira was active on the matter, and with Mr Clement Rohee in office, a draft was finally presented.

I encourage the members of GAPSO to sit and deal energetically with this important bill, before we have nothing to do with its passing.  I also advise the executive not to handle it in an antagonistic manner which could be costly, financially and otherwise.  We fought for this, it is here!  Work with the ministry or let the river flow.

The law is here, the future is here, and there will be no regressing. I offer my services and those of my company to the ministry if needed, as a free consult-ant/advisor in this matter.

Minister Rohee should form a ministerial body comprising maybe Mr Laurie Lewis, Mr Norman Mclean, Mr Maurice Amres, Mr Dougal Kirkpatrick and any others who are interested.  The government has no time to waste, it has been patient, and been treated disrespectfully, if I may say so.

The first draft was definitely unacceptable, and I was shocked it was even presented to us in that form.  But the reality is that they did prepare one, and that is commendable, but they completely disregarded the original draft of GAPSO.
Yours faithfully,
Roshan Khan

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