‘Sloppy reading of the Weekend Mirror and the legislation’

Dear Editor,

In a calculated display of vulgar abuse (“political opportunism,” “taint of racially inspired motives,” etc) which I will not dignify with a response, nor would I the ad hominems or trivialities liberally sprinkled over his letter of February 29 (‘Ramkarran has disregarded essential facts…‘), Mr Christopher Ram seeks to respond in the Stabroek News to an article I wrote in the Weekend Mirror, later published in the Guyana Chronicle. Except for the clarifications below I will not respond in any depth to his comments, because SN’s readers have not seen my article.

(1) Mr Ram’s allegation that I accused Mr Greenidge of “racially inspired undertones,” is malicious, disgusting, perverse, unworthy of him and a dishonest misrepresentation of what I said. I made no such accusation against Mr Greenidge who is an honourable and distinguished Guyanese judged by the highest standards and has rendered exceptional service to Guyana. He continues to do so as a MP. Whether or not I agree with some of what he says or omits to say, or how his advocacy comes over, and choose to be critical of it, even sharply as he himself is capable of, is  a completely different matter.

(2) Mr Ram did not understand what I wrote and is guilty of sloppy reading of both my article and the legislation. The earlier Act was enacted in 1961. Section 24, or at least the Contingencies Fund under section 24, was established by Order 39 of 1966, 45 years ago. Mr Ram, a lecturer in law at the University of Guyana since he qualified as a lawyer two or three years ago, missed this fact because of his inattention to the marginal note next to section 24 in his haste to find some flimsy issue to criticize me about – miscalculating the age of the Act, when in fact I was calculating the age of section 24. I compared section 24, which had been repealed, with section 41 of the later 2003 Act. I concluded that 41 substantially re-enacted 24. I neither said nor implied anywhere that the later 2003 Act did not substantially amend the earlier 1961 Act. Of course it did. That was its objective. But I was not dealing with the entire gamut of amendments. I was dealing with Supplementary Estimates only. Section 24 of the earlier 1961 Act and section 41 of the later 2003 Act were the relevant sections because they dealt with Supplementary Estimates. I assessed and interpreted them in order to make conclusions about the respective roles and responsibilities of the Minister and the Parliament in relation to Supplementary Estimates only. I stand by my interpretation of sections 24 and 41 and my analysis flowing therefrom. Mr Ram has a legitimate right to disagree with my conclusions. He did not. He roamed over the entire Act then deemed my arguments to be irrelevant, in relation to what he did not say.

(3) Mr Ram accused me of being “racially inspired” when I questioned the motive of the opposition (which includes the AFC) in declining to support the request for funds for the specialist hospital since they had no justifiable reason for doing so and had said not a word about Mr Hamilton Green’s implied assertion that the PPP is colluding with India to colonise Guyana because India is assisting Guyana to build a hospital. Even now, both Mr Ram and the opposition have remained silent about this bilge from a member of the executive of the PNCR. It is those who remain silent, like Mr Ram, who have answers to give. I make no excuse or apology for speaking out boldly even if it incurs Mr Ram’s ire.

(4) Mr Ram astonishingly justifies the irresponsibility of the opposition in voting down requests to replenish the Consolidated Fund of moneys already spent, and for which there is a bona fide explanation, when clearly such an outcome was never anticipated, no legal provision having been made for such an eventuality. He justifies it on the failure of the government to produce documentation. This has never been required in the history of the National Assembly. Monitoring of such spending is the responsibility of the Auditor General. In any event parliamentary procedures could have been invoked to produce the necessary documentary evidence instead of creating a financial conundrum by rejecting the item. Consideration of Supplementary Estimates is not a platform for the inspection of accounts, receipts, documents, books and papers. Mr Ram, accountant that he is, may well be happy to see the transformation of the floor of the full House into an accounting office.

What conclusion does he therefore expect to be made about the motive of the PNC, and now his own? I have talked about the PNCR. In respect of his own, it is justified to say that Mr Ram, because of political partisanship, has clearly abandoned his advocacy of financial rectitude in public affairs and now supports financial anarchy. He, one of the leaders of the pack, would jump on any anti-PPP bandwagon even if, as in this case, it involves flip-flopping.

Yours faithfully,
Ralph Ramkarran

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