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To ensure that proper legal services are provided to the Government; to provide statutory services to the public relating to the public trust and bankruptcy matters; and to register titles, mortgages, companies, societies and other bodies as well as other documents, as required by the law.

June 20, 2015

Guyana Chronicle 

ATTORNEY GENERAL and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams has disclosed a plan for major legislative reforms to secure the independence of constitutional agencies such as the Supreme Court of the Judicature, the Guyana Elections Commission [GECOM], Service Commissions, and Parliament. The reforms will be finalised in two bills, one of which the AG said will be tabled on or before the June 25 sitting of the National Assembly.

The Constitution Amendment Bill, Williams said, will secure the independence of the Supreme Court, GECOM, and Service Commissions. “That bill intends to restore the independence of certain constitutional bodies that were eroded by legislation that made them budget agencies,” Williams added.

 

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams, with US Charge d’ Affaires, Bryan Hunt

The approval of this constitutional amendment hangs in the balance, due to the absence of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic in the 11th Parliament.

For his part, Williams noted the need for the Opposition to be involved in constitutional reform. He said: “That’s not a problem for us reaching out to the Opposition, because it’s our main platform to have a national unity Government and to be inclusive.”

Following a courtesy call by United States Charge d’Affaires, Bryan Hunt, to the Attorney General yesterday in the AG’s Carmichael Street Chambers, Hunt told reporters that the conversation he had with the AG was “to get an idea of the reforms that the new Government wishes to institute in order to restore the independence of the Judiciary, and ensure due process within the country.”

The US envoy expressed his satisfaction with the ideas of the David Granger Administration and hinted the commitment of his Government to assist with achieving the reforms.

While the autonomy of constitutional agencies such as GECOM and the Supreme Court remains a focal point for the David Granger Administration, the Attorney General said another bill will be tabled to bring about the autonomy of the Parliament.

That bill is named the “Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly Bill” and will not be presented for the next sitting, but AG Williams is optimistic that it will make its way to the House soon. This bill will require only a simple majority and could be passed with the 33 seats held by the A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition.

While the PPP/C has not signalled its intention to be part of the 11th Parliament which opened Wednesday, June 10, the US Envoy expressed concern over the absence of the PPP/C for parliamentary oversight.

“It’s very important in a democratic system to have not just the Government, but also a very vibrant Opposition. Forty-nine per cent of the public spoke very clearly that they wanted the PPP/C to represent them in Parliament,” Hunt added.