Granger, Jagdeo meeting clears way for set up of service commissions

President meets Opposition Leader: President David Granger (second from right) with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo (right) , PPP Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira (third from right) and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall at State House yesterday. (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday met on the appointments of the Public Service Commission and the Police Service Commission and Jagdeo said he voiced his disapproval at the proposed nominee for the chairmanship of the latter, retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, saying he was partisan and comes with too much “baggage”.

“I believe that his conduct in the Commission of Inquiry [into the alleged assassination plot against the president] reinforces the partisan nature of his thinking. Now that he is going to head the Police Service Commission, he is going to bring two sets of baggage with him,” Jagdeo said following the meeting.

The two sides at the meeting yesterday (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

“One, the political approach to the job; that is, judging people. And he too has a lot of inter-personal problems with members of the police force and has old scores to settle,” he added.

A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency said that Jagdeo was accompanied by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, while Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Attorney General Basil Williams accompanied the President.

During a press conference he called on Wednesday, Jagdeo had elaborated on why he felt Slowe was not the best choice for Chairmanship of the police commission.

“I am now aware that the President has released the names of the people that he intends to consult with me on. Out of courtesy, I will not release those names today but will await those consultations to take place and then after the consultation I can speak again with the media about the discussions we would have had at those consultations. Tomorrow, I will give a comment of my take on the consultations and some other matters I plan to raise with the President outside of the two issues he has invited me to consult on,” he said.

“I want to share with the President how I feel particularly [about] his nominee for Chairman of the Police Service Commission. The person is political. The person was doing political work for the APNU in the past elections, at the senior level. Through a constitutional body, recently, he displayed a lack of fairness and now he is being put to head the Police Service Commission. I believe it is worrying because policemen, with that individual heading [the commission], will not be treated fairly,” he added.

Jagdeo yesterday said the meeting with the President was a cordial one as they discussed the two issue. He added that after he made his dissatisfaction with the nomination of Slowe and gave his reasons, the President assured him that he would “speak” to Slowe on the matters raised.

Stabroek News understands that the President met with Jagdeo, as is required under the law, so that the Police Service Commission could be swiftly appointed and thus pave the way for the appointment of a substantive Police Commissioner. The Constitution states that the President can appoint a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioners of Police only after consulting with the Opposition Leader and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission after the Chairperson has consulted with the other members of the Commission.

In an invited comment after the meeting, Minister Harmon told the Ministry of the Presidency that the President as required by the Constitution, has consulted with Jagdeo and he expects that the Commissions will soon be sworn in.

“As you are aware, these two Commissions, the life had come to an end many months ago but the process had required the National Assembly to nominate some of these persons for both Commissions and once those were done, the President would consult with the Leader of the Opposition. So this is what took place this morning. The requirement was for meaningful consultation and not necessarily agreement and so that consultation took place and now I believe we can proceed with having the two Commissions established and the President at a short time from now will have those two Commissions sworn in so that their work can continue,” he said.

Humanitarian issues

Meanwhile, Jagdeo also said that he would have tried to engage the President on issues outside of yesterday’s planned discussions. He pointed out that this was done. “We discussed the humanitarian issues. I discussed what is happening across the country now, the growth in crime. I asked the President about what basically they are doing about it. We went through some of the structural issues and I said to him that we are in the dark about what his proposed changes to the police force are. Because we have heard snippets about them centralising the police force, but we don’t know what that means. From all indications, they are more inclined to set up a more hierarchical structure, then we are hearing about decentralisation and they run counter to each other. I spoke to him extensively about what were our plans to strengthen middle level management in the police force and how we pursued it… what process we used to select the commissioner of police, when [Winston] Felix was selected. He assured me that he was in the process of selecting a nominee and we will consult later on that,” he said.

“I also expressed grave concerns about the humanitarian work on our borders and we committed full support from the two frontier regions, because we control those, to the government’s effort to safeguard our borders… I also said that government is not doing much on the humanitarian front. Our regions don’t have the budget to tackle the huge problems we have noticed there. The Warraus come across looking for food, etcetera. So he committed to greater involvement of the regions,” he added.

Jagdeo, however, said he did not get clarity on the $30 billion GuySuCo bond. “I spoke of some of the issues that I did at the press conference [on Wednesday]. I said we are in the dark about the plans and they have borrowed $30 billion to fund a plan that nobody knows about. He didn’t offer clarifications on the plans. I pointed out how it is not wise to borrow so much money and sit on it, when you don’t even have the feasibility study for long-term plans and how to use the money and the implications for that for the treasury. It would cost over $2 billion a year just to service the bond,” he said.

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