The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) has plans to soon begin work to expand its Kingston, Georgetown headquarters to create a more comfortable working environment for staff, according to the entity’s Chairman Justice (retired) James Patterson.
During an interview with Stabroek News, Patterson expressed hope that by this time next year, the project will be completed.
“It will encompass what we needed to have done in the past…We would want to start in a matter of months rather than years,” he said, while stressing that there needs to be a “comfortable and desirable environment” for Gecom’s staff.
Noting that he has not received any major complaints since he assumed office, Patterson said that he had made it a top priority to become familiar with his senior staff. Now that the familiarization process is complete, he said his next task is meeting the subordinate staff in all the regions. This exercise, he informed, will begin sometime next month and end in March.
According to Patterson, he will be travelling to the various locations countrywide. “The Guyana Elections Commission is the most efficient bureaucracy in which I have [had] a privilege to serve,” he said before noting that a difficulty will arise when people are too efficient. “One tends to rely on them for everything but I have the experience enough to know that I should be a participant every now and then. By nature, I am not territorial, I delegate. I am not totally hands-on but I need reliable, competent people and that’s what I have here,” he said.
Patterson added that his only concern at this point is that his staff do not get “disillusioned by the negatives they read.”
According to him, he is fitting into the Chairmanship position “better than I thought.” He said that he has cultivated a “great” relationship with the staff at the Kingston office, whom he met individually shortly after he took up office.
Additionally, he said that he has met with representatives of the US, Britain, Canada and the European Union, all of whom pledged to help the commission if called upon.
Meanwhile, the Chairman noted that his predecessor Dr. Steve Surujbally has offered some sound advice, which he will act on once impending local government elections are held.
During a meeting last November, Surujbally had, among other things, advised Patterson to push for the introduction of electronic voting and to resuscitate talks to commence an elections management course at the University of Guyana.