A quarrel ensued between the Government and the Opposition on Tuesday over the appointment of two persons from the APNU+AFC’s list of candidates for the 2015 elections as Regional Executive Officers (REOs).
The issue came up during the consideration of the 2015 estimates of expenditure in the National Assembly where several opposition Members of Parliament pressed Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan to release the names of all REOs.
Despite repeated questions on the issue from the opposition, the Minister refused to provide the information and claimed it was not readily available.
The PPP complained that the new APNU+AFC government was politicizing the local democratic organs by placing “party hacks” in key positions. Opposition members continued to press the Minister to provide the answers as they jeered “where are the REOs?”
It was at that point, Minister of Governance and former House Speaker, Raphael Trotman, defended his colleague Minister.
Trotman declared that “no minister should be bullied into answering questions,” and put the brewing issue to rest for the time.
All ten Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) were recently elected and while some persons were re-elected to their post as Chairpersons, some new officials were elected.
The PPP won 7 of the 10 regions in the May 2015 elections.
It was Bulkan himself who had supported the move to send the former Region #9 REO Claire Singh packing when the new government took office in May.
He claimed then, that Singh was placed on the Region 9 Council under the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government and had not been “professional” in the execution of her duties.
News Source has since learnt that Carl Parker, who was listed on the APNU+AFC list has replaced Singh while Rafael Downes, who was also a candidate is functioning as the REO of Region #8.
When contacted by News Source on the issue, Minister Bulkan said “I don’t know what is the big issue about naming the REOs, my reluctance was not to name the REOs but I did not have the information as to the dates of the beginning of their contracts… I know who are the 10 REOs across the regions and in any even each of the 10 REOs will be present here today so they opposition will not only have their names but they will have the opportunity to meet these persons.” The Minister defended Parker as a professional and said “it was probably overlooked, Mr Parker many years ago was a local government officer who served in Region # with distinction and regrettable he was hounded out of office when the former [PPP] administration came to office in 1992.”
He also claimed that Downes was never active in local politics and “he was probably caught up in the sweep and his name was used on the list.”
Bulkan said there are no likely changes to occur with the current posting of REOs except for the replacement of the Region #3 REO, whose contract came to an end recently.