The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Brigadier David Granger, MP, met, on Thursday 30th May 2013, at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, with Ambassador, H.E. Mr D. Brent Hardt and USAID team responsible for the above captioned project. Save

The Leader of the Opposition was accompanied by the following Shadow Ministers for: Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, MP; Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Ronald Bulkan, MP; Finance and Development, Mr. Carl Greenidge, MP; and Legal Affairs, Attorney General and Labour, Mr. Basil Williams, MP, along with the Policy Adviser, Mr. E. Lance Carberry.

The US Ambassador was accompanied by Humberto A. Collado, Programme Officer, Latin America and the Caribbean; Mr. Michael Fraser, Political and Economic Chief, US Embassy; Mr. Michael Murphy, IRI Project Adviser; and Ms. Cloe Noble, Programme Management Specialist, USAID.

The Ambassador explained that this new US$1.5Mn USAID project has the following components: Strengthening the role and effectiveness of Parliament; public education and information for Local Government; and Engagement and involvement of young people in the political system.

There ensued extensive discussion of some of critical issues of Governance: The need for strengthening of the National Assembly to ensure that it is equipped to effectively ensure that the Executive is accountable to the People through their representatives in the National Assembly; technical and analytical support for the work of the National Assembly, such as the establishment of a Budget Office, the provision of the capacity to provide Legislative Drafting assistance for the Opposition, professional research support for the work of Committees, etc.; the provision of adequate resources to ensure the effective functioning of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition; the challenges to part-time MPs with the increasing demands of the Committee system; the need to guarantee the independence and autonomy of Constitutional Offices and institutions; the implications of the proliferation of “acting” appointments; the status of Local Government reform as a precondition for the holding of Local Government Elections; the removal of the heavy hand of Ministerial manipulation of the Local Government system; the need for comprehensive Public Education programmes for ensuring that the new Local Government system is understood; the need for “civic” education for encouraging young people to become actively involved in the political system; the challenge of independent “funding” for the Local Government system; and the implications of the refusal of the President to give his Assent to Opposition Bills.

It was evident that the new USAID project could make a valuable contribution for advancing the evolution of a truly democratic culture in Guyana.

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