Ram and McRae says min­is­ter’s com­ments point to dis­crim­i­na­tory hir­ing prac­tices

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

Ac­count­ing firm Ram and McRae has de­nounced re­cent com­ments by Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Health Volda Lawrence as “shock­ing and dis­grace­ful,” say­ing it amounts to an ad­mis­sion of dis­crim­i­na­tory hir­ing prac­tices.

In an epi­logue to its re­view of the gov­ern­ment’s 2019 na­tional bud­get, the firm also sounded its con­cern that there is a se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­ity that the planned pub­lic spend­ing will be used for dis­crim­i­na­tory em­ploy­ment prac­tices.

Dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion at the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Congress Re­form (PNCR) Re­gion Four District Con­fer­ence, held at Congress Place last Sun­day, a record­ing of which has been made pub­lic, Lawrence, who is the party’s Chair­man, can be heard telling at­ten­dees that they should not be afraid to give jobs or con­tracts to party com­rades. “Well I got news for you: The only friends I got is PNC, so the only peo­ple I could give work to is PNC. And, right now, I look­ing for a doc­tor who can talk Span­ish or Por­tuguese and ah want one that is PNC,” she is heard say­ing.

Ram and McRae said it should be recog­nised that a Se­nior Cab­i­net Min­is­ter of the APNU+AFC gov­ern­ment is ad­mit­ting to “dis­crim­i­na­tory em­ploy­ment with an undis­guised hint of eth­nic pref­er­ences.” “This is un­con­sti­tu­tional, shock­ing and dis­grace­ful,” it fur­ther said. “With the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties each hav­ing a strong eth­nic base, the state­ment re­in­forces the pub­lic racism nar­ra­tive, and leaves the most apo­lit­i­cal, ob­jec­tive ob­server in Guyana with lit­tle op­tion but to ques­tion whether this is an em­bed­ded pol­icy among party lead­ers,” it added.

Not­ing that Lawrence’s Min­istry of Pub­lic Health, which has been al­lo­cated a to­tal sum of $25.223 bil­lion in the 2019 bud­get, has al­ready been im­pli­cated in a num­ber of tainted pro­cure­ments amount­ing to hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars, in vi­o­la­tion of the law, the firm ques­tioned the ex­tent to which the bud­get may con­tain dis­guised po­lit­i­cal spend­ing.

“This raises the se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­ity that the 2019 Bud­get, po­ten­tially the last full year Bud­get be­fore the 2020 elec­tions, will be used for dis­crim­i­na­tory em­ploy­ment prac­tices and other spend­ing, not only in Ms. Lawrence’s Min­istry but in the Gov­ern­ment as a whole,” it added.

Also of con­cern to the firm is the fact that there is yet to be any pub­lic con­dem­na­tion of Lawrence’s state­ment ei­ther by the Pres­i­dent, her Cab­i­net col­leagues or any of the lead­ers of the coali­tion par­ties.

“This is omi­nous and may set the stage for one of the most con­fronta­tional cam­paigns for what her col­league Min­is­ter de­scribed as the “mother of all elec­tions,” it added.

Also con­demn­ing Lawrence’s state­ment as an ad­mis­sion of dis­crim­i­na­tory labour prac­tices was op­po­si­tion leader and PPP Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Bhar­rat Jagdeo.

“This is il­le­gal. Volda Lawrence could be charged for this be­cause our labour

law says that you can­not dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple on the ba­sis of their gen­der, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, race, reli­gion, what­ever else. She is mak­ing it clear that she is go­ing to dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of their pol­i­tics. I hope we can see some pri­vate crim­i­nal charges be­ing filed against Volda Lawrence for a state­ment like this,” he told a press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

On the same day, Lawrence re­sponded to the re­portage on her com­ments but did not ad­dress the spe­cific com­ments in re­la­tion to hir­ing party mem­bers.

In a state­ment Lawrence said she stands by her views on the is­sue of jobs and un­em­ploy­ment, and that mea­sures are be­ing put in place for the young and in­dus­tri­ous to be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity of be­com­ing self­em­ployed or gain­ing mean­ing­ful em­ploy­ment.

Mean­while Min­is­ter Joseph Har­mon has de­clined to say whether gov­ern­ment has spo­ken to Lawrence about her state­ments.

Dur­ing a post-Cab­i­net press brief­ing on Fri­day, Har­mon was asked whether any­one from the gov­ern­ment, in­clu­sive of Pres­i­dent David Granger, has spo­ken to Lawrence about her com­ments.

In re­sponse, he re­it­er­ated that he would not be com­ment­ing on mat­ters which are within the realm of the PNCR, which is the main con­stituent of APNU. He added that in this par­tic­u­lar case, he is “sure that the party would re­view the state­ment that Min­is­ter Lawrence made and the ex­pla­na­tion which she gave sub­se­quently and if there is need for any fur­ther elab­o­ra­tion then the party will do so.”

Volda Lawrence

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.