Vacancy created by incarceration of Region 3 deputy REO

With Deputy Regional Executive Officer of Region 3 Ameena Marlyne Hinds behind bars in the US for allegedly attempting to smuggle 3 lbs of cocaine into that country, a vacancy for her position has now been created and the Ministry Communities is expected to make that appointment as the long awaited Local Government Commission (LGC) is yet to be established.

Ameena Marlyne Hind
Ameena Marlyne Hinds

Stabroek News understands that Hinds, who has been a deputy REO for some time now, will be dismissed and her position will have to be filled. Hinds, according to sources, was appointed deputy REO under the PPP/C administration and she served in Region 3 before being transferred to Region 4. However, shortly after Regional Chairman Genevieve Allen was appointed she was returned to Region 3 where she served until her incarceration.

On October 26, she was nabbed in Houston, Texas with the cocaine in her suitcase and she reportedly told authorities that she was given the drugs by a ‘mystery man’ and that she had agreed to smuggle same to help settle a debt.

Contacted yesterday, Regional Executive Officer of Region 3 Denis Jaikaran declined to comment on the issue directing all questions to the Ministry of Communities. Attempts to contact Permanent Secretary Emile Mc Garrell on his cellular phone proved futile.

However, in recent times the ministry has been appointing REOs and deputy REOs in the absence of the LGC under whose purview this would have fallen.

After giving four dates—March, June, July and then September—for the setting up of the commission, Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan earlier this month told the National Assembly that he could not give a date for the body’s appointment.

The minister said, “The administration is not in the position to name a date for establishment” of the LGC.

Based on his presentation, it appeared that the government was finding it difficult to source suitable candidates to serve as the four government-nominated members of the commission.

According to the legislation, the commission will be made up of eight members: four nominated by government, one nominated by unions operating in the local government sector and three nominated by the Leader of the Opposition. In April, the Committee of Appointments named Andrew Christopher Garnett, of the Guyana Local Government Officers’ Union as the nominee from trade unions. This nomination was approved by the House in August.

In July, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo identified his three nominees as former Georgetown Town Clerk Carol Sooba and former local government ministers Norman Whittaker and Clinton Collymore.

Though Bulkan has for months maintained that the government has a shortlist of suitable candidates who were being considered, he told the House that the administration was consulting as it was “being exceedingly careful that its nominees can meet the test of the legislation.”

In the absence of the commission, the ministry has appointed one REO and two deputy town clerks.

In the instance of the Region 6 REO, as was the case of her predecessor, her qualifications, which were made public by the ministry, were not in keeping with what was contained in an advertisement last year for the position.

In that advertisement, the ministry had said that applicants for the REO position must have a Master’s Degree in Administration with five years’ managerial experience or a Degree in Management or Public Management or any other related field with 10 years’ managerial experience in the public sector. The applicant must also have a knowledge of the Local Democratic Organs Act 1980 among other related Acts. Experience in auditing/knowledge of regional administrative systems would also be an asset.

The advertisement had also said that the duties of the REO include implementing and executing the council’s budget, executing the programmes of the council and chairing the regional procurement and tender administration board.

The Local Government Commission Act of 2013 at Article 4(2) calls for all appointments to be made from among persons of unquestionable integrity and with extensive knowledge, where practicable, in local government matters, administration, finance, Amerindian affairs, industry and law.

It has been over two years since the Act, which provides for the establishment of a Local Government Commission, in keeping with Article 78(a) of the Constitution, was passed.

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