Former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on Monday went out on a limb to defend the General Register Office (GRO), saying that when he left office in May, he left behind an entity that was corruption free.
Rohee’s comments came following pronouncement by Citizenship Minister, Winston Felix where he claimed that a series of corrupt practices, which had existed in the areas of birth registration and immigration under the former administration, were recently uncovered.
Felix had claimed that corruption was allowed to run rampant under the former PPP administration and it is now his task to clean up the confusion which still exists.
Rohee in his response on Monday, shielded the GRO and said that he left behind an Office that was filled with competent, diligent and professional staffers.
“The PPP notes with utter disdain comments by Mr. Felix that the staffs at the GRO were engaging in corruption… to chastise his own staff like this may have been demoralizing,” Rohee said.
But just over a week ago, Rohee’s Party colleagues and another Home Affairs Minister under the PPP administration admitted to acts of corruption at the GRO.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who headed the Ministry of Home Affairs prior to Rohee, had admitted that fake birth certificates were being issued by the Office in the past which eventually led to persons securing fake passports.
But while Rohee is not denying these claims, he believes that during his tenure the situation had virtually disappeared and was nonexistent. “You can hardly find people saying that people had taken money from them at the GRO,” he added.
Rohee said it cannot be debated that the PPP left behind a far better institution for the coalition government that what was handed over to the Party after the 1992 elections. He also raised issue with what he said were new internal arrangements at the GRO and the ongoing Civil Events Registration System which had received the support of UNICEF. Mr. Rohee said Felix cannot be trusted with the affairs of the GRO which can be used to influence the electoral process.
Rohee said Felix must explain the removal of key personnel from the GRO and placement of new recruits to oversee the production and distribution of birth and death certificates.
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