The PPP/C Government has appointed six new Regional Executive Officers (REOs) and retained three from the previous APNU/AFC regime to serve in the various administrative regions across Guyana.
This was announced on Saturday by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall.
These newly-appointed REOs will be taking up office on Monday, the Department of Public Information (DPI) said in a report.
Previous Deputy Regional Executive Officer for Region One (Barima-Waini), Teka Bissessar was appointed REO by the Minister, for that region.
Devanand Ramdatt, who has a wealth of academic achievements to his name and held the positions of Assistant Director of Youth and Regional Chairman of the region was appointed Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) REO.
Additionally, Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Five (Mahaica-Berbice), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) will be headed by Jagnarine Somwar, Genevieve Blackman, Narindra Persaud and Karl Singh, respectively.
Somwar has been serving the Government since 2004 and was also appointed Justice of the Peace and Commission of Affidavits by former President Bharrat Jagdeo. In addition to his work experience, his academic qualifications boast of several certificates.
As an educator for more than 20 years, Narindra Persaud also previously served as a Regional Councillor for Region Four, and Manager of the Materials Management Unit, Ministry of Health.
Blackman previously served as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education (2012-2017), Chief Executive Officer for the Board of Industrial Training (2011), and Coordinator for the World Bank-funded HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control project at the Ministry of Labour, among other positions.
Holding several management certificates, Karl Singh would have been the Regional Vice-Chairman for Region Nine (2015-2020) and will now be REO for the region.
Meanwhile, the REOs for three regions have been retained from the previous APNU/AFC Administration.
These include Pauline Lucas, Kerwin Ward and Mitzy Campbell, who will be continuing their tenure as REOs for Regions Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), respectively.
However, it was reported that the REO for Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) has not yet been appointed. But this is expected to be done soon.
“We wish them well and we look forward to their profound administration of our regions as we forge ahead to rebuild the regional development system in Guyana,” Minister Dharamlall stated.
Just over two weeks ago, the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry terminated the services of seven of the REOs appointed under the coalition Administration.
These were: Randolph Storm from Region One; Denis Jaikarran from Region Two; Jennifer Ferreira Dougal from Region Three; Ovid Morrison from Region Five; Kim Stephen-Williams from Region Six; Carl Parker from Region Nine and Orrin Gordon from Region 10.
At the time, Minister Dharamlall had said that the Ministry had “lost confidence in their ability to perform”, adding that not only was their performance inimical to the effective and efficient functioning of the respective regions but they also practiced heavy partisan politics.
Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister, Gail Teixeira had already made it clear that while the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration will not engage in witch-hunting; it will seek to rid the public sector of political appointees whose services are no longer required.
Time and again, various regional chairpersons have complained over the unwillingness of the various REOs to cooperate in order to advance regional development.
In the case of Region One, Regional Chair Brentnol Ashley in July 2019 had explained that there is a holdup of crucial projects in the region, through no fault of the Regional Democratic Council, but rather, the REO.
In Region Two, the REO was charged for assaulting Regional Vice Chair Nandranie Coonjah. The REO, in 2019, had also reportedly taken away the vehicles belonging to the Regional Chair and Vice Chair, and had closed the door to the Vice Chair’s Office.
In Region Five, the RDC has not been able to properly meet for years due to constant disruptions by the REO who usually leads a walkout, forcing the meeting to be adjourned. The REO’s walkouts stemmed from an incident where Regional Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal had asked two controversial Councillors to leave the horseshoe table while their legality was being discussed. However, the Chairman’s request was met with pushback from the coalition Government’s Councillors. Morrison swore in three persons as Councillors unbeknown to the Chairman and the full Council. Ever since, there have been issues at every statutory meeting in relation to the legality of the Councillors which ultimately led to walkouts by Government Councillors and the REO.
The Region Six REO has had her fair share of controversies as well. In July 2018, she refused to write the then Minister of State Joseph Harmon on the wishes of the RDC. The RDC had passed a motion for Central Government to finance the transportation of children whose parents were out of a job due to the closure of the sugar estates, but the REO refused to make the request.
Region Nine’s REO was, in 2017, charged with sexual assault.