After working with the Parliament Office to prepare the local government bills passed last month for assent certification, Chief Parlia-mentary Counsel within the Ministry of Legal Affairs Cecil Dhurjon requested that National Assembly Clerk Sherlock Isaacs allow him one last look at them.
This was almost a month ago and Isaacs is yet to receive the bills so he can send them to the president for assent. Attempts were made last week by Stabroek News to contact Dhurjon for comments in light of this revelation however this was to no avail.
Further efforts led to calls being made to Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, who said that he would not be providing any information since coverage was not given by Stabroek News to the opening of the Berbice branch of the Director of Public Prosecu-tions’ office and he then hung up.
According to Isaacs, he and his office went to work on the Local Government Com-mission Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Municipal and District Councils (Amend-ment) Bill and the Fiscal Transfers Bill after they were passed but soon found that that the nature of the amendments that needed to be included were complex and beyond the capacity of his staff to complete on their own.
As such, Dhurjon’s assistance was solicited and with staff from Parliament Office, Isaacs said that they worked every working day for two weeks to include the amendments, some of which were made at the level of the select committee, and others during the August 7th sitting where the bills were passed.
The work was eventually completed, but Isaacs says that Dhurjon requested that the bills be left on his desk so that he could comb through them one last time.
President Donald Ramotar’s assent to the bills would put into law the legal framework for a reformed local government system, for which polls have been delayed since 1997.
Main opposition APNU has said that it believes the bills ought to have been sent to the president having been passed. But Isaacs has stood by his decision to send them to the AG’s Chambers, saying it is both a matter of practice and was informed by legal advice sought from a non-political legal practitioner.