Region One MP accused of intimidating RDC staff, Regional Chairman says

Richard Allen

Government parliamentarian for Region One (Barima-Waini) Richard Allen has once again been accused of overstepping his authority by meddling in administrative affairs.

Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley confirmed that complaints were lodged with the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) over the alleged intimidation of staff in the Matarkai sub-region by Allen.

Ashley said that efforts are afoot to have the matter addressed at the level of the RDC.

Among the complaints received were that Allen, who according to Ashley has no administrative power in the region, has summoned staff of the RDC in the Matarkai Sub-region to meetings, the content of which he said has not been made known to him.

He further noted that staff have complained about Allen’s authoritarian manner of doing things, which has left some afraid to speak up.

“Staff members are afraid to speak up because he is always referencing some minister,” Ashley added.

However, when Stabroek News related the claims to Allen, he said, “None of that was brought to my attention; I don’t know what you’re talking about. Thanks!”

In February, Allen had signaled his intention to seek advice from the Attorney General regarding a statement by Ashley, who has voiced concern over his reported involvement in the issuance of birth certificates and the distribution of pension books in the region.

When contacted for a comment on the claims contained in Ashley’s statement, Allen called the accusations “malicious,” before noting that he will be seeking guidance from the Attorney General on how to respond.

Ashley, in a statement, had registered his concerns about what he said was Allen’s interference in the affairs and functions of several state agencies and elected bodies in the region.

The Chairman cited a report in the Guyana Chronicle, “Government tackles low birth registration in Region One,” which, according to him, reported in detail on Allen’s active involvement with a General Register Office (GRO) visiting team in the region, where birth certificates were issued.

He went on to say that while he commends the work of the GRO in reaching out to Region One with the objective of ensuring the people are registered, he is suspicious of the transparency and equality of treatment as a result of Allen’s alleged “embedding” in the team’s day-to-day operations and the process for the issuance of birth registration.

Ashley charged that he received reports of Allen’s personal involvement in the distribution of birth certificates in bulk to various communities.

He added that in the past the toshaos and other community leaders have been the ones who have worked with the GRO team as they are knowledgeable of the eligibility of residents in their communities. He added that Allen’s alleged involvement in the registration and distribution process is “highly questionable and suspect,” while noting that the documents are crucial for the registration of voters given that local government polls are due this year.

Ashley also said representation was made at several statutory meetings of the RDC for toshaos and other community leaders to be entrusted with uplifting and distributing pension books for aged persons from far flung areas or who are otherwise unable to travel long distances.

“When this recommendation was made by the RDC to the Ministry of Social Protection, I was informed that no individual that is not employed by the Ministry of Social Protection can uplift pension books to distribute, yet councilors of the RDC [have] seen and received many reports that MP Richard Allen is distributing pension books on behalf of Ministry of Social Protection,” he added

Ashley also alleged that Allen was able to access money originally warranted to the Matarkai Neighbourhood Democratic Council in order to host a Christmas party for senior citizens.

He said the majority of the RDC’s councillors were disturbed by and opposed to Allen’s apparent interference in the operation of state agencies in the region and called for an immediate halt to his “access and interference” in their activities in the region.

On February 21st, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix refuted claims of impropriety and publicly legitimised Allen’s involvement in the outreach activity by the GRO.

“None of the allegations mentioned has any truthfulness behind it… I Winston Gordon Felix, Minister [of] Citizenship has authorised Mr. Allen since last year to mobilise and assist the GRO staff with moving around… MP Allen has not interfered in the work of the GRO staff. He is of help to them,” he said, according to the release.

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