A petition presented on behalf of at least 6000 citizens by the People’s Parliament is expected to be heard at the next sitting of the National Assembly on November 9. The members of People’s Parliament handed over the petition last Monday at the re-opening of Parliament. The document which is calling for fundamental changes in certain crucial sectors of the country’s social infrastructure was handed over to Speaker of the Assembly, Raphael Trotman. The Speaker accepted the document, and distributed copies to the 65-member Parliament with a promise of having the contents of the document endorsed by an excess of 6000 citizens, heard. Several social activists including Red Thread’s Karen De Souza and other members of the People’s Parliament were present at the handing over. The petition is calling for several changes such as local government elections, changes in the tax system to make taxes more equitable in its application; lowering of VAT; investigation into NICIL, NCN and NIS. Immediate reconstitution of the Integrity Commission;
Sunday October 28, 2012
anti-corruption legislation; establishment of the constitutional commissions like the Human Rights Commission, Procurement Commission, the Ombudsman etc.; repeal of the Broadcasting Act; and establishment of a national living income, among other things. The People’s Parliament attributed the collection of the citizen’s signatures to its purpose as a whole. Sherlina Nagar said that the group members wanted to make inputs in solving various issues like corruption, police brutality, lack of freedom of
speech, poverty and violence of all forms. It was those issues she said, that sparked the need for the petition. Nagar had also explained that the People’s Parliament is gathering the signatures of concerned individuals from different social, ethnic and financial backgrounds. They hold a range of knowledge, beliefs and opinions and are working to create change in Guyana in spite of fear and state repression. The group has however had its share of challenges with the most recent being the Ministry of Housing and Water ’s act to have the
members removed from their current location. The Ministry had sent a letter to the group informing them that they had no right to congregate at the Parliament Square. The members were given 72 hours but were defiant. They have argued and had also presented to Chief Justice Ian Chang an injunction against their removal. Minister Ifraan Ali had argued that those congregated at the Parliament Square were prohibiting the completion of the beautification works being done to the park. He also said that the park was being
destroyed by those occupying the park space and impeding the rights of others wanting to use the square. According to the group members, the Chief Justice had indicated to them their right to freedom of expression and their freedom to congregate. Most significantly the Ministry’s letter had argued for the People’s Parliament to remove the banners, placards and other display items that were being used. Last Wednesday at an emergency press conference, the People’s Parliament
alleged that employees of the Housing Ministry had raided the group’s location, destroying and removing items belonging to the group. According to the members, they were targeted by the Housing Ministry. On Friday, the People’s Parliament staged a protest outside the Housing Ministry. Leonard Craig, another member of the organization, said that they will not be moved by the Minister’s bullying, since they will continue to advocate in the interest of the people of Guyana.