Ministerial Code of Conduct– only 1 response submittedThe office of the Integrity Commission is again inviting members of the public to submit comments on the draft Code of Conduct for all Ministers of Government, Members of the National Assembly and public office holders.Speaking with the media on Monday, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said even with an extension granted for submissions to be made, Government has so far only received one submission and that was from the Guyana Bar Association.“The Code of Conduct would go through an exercise of an advertisement for further submission. We have received only one submission in terms of contribution and that is from the Guyana Bar Association. Though Government had put out an article that it is opened for submissions, we have not received any submissions as yet,” Nagamootoo told Journalists on Monday.The call for the swift enforcement of the Ministerial Code of Conduct became more pronounced, following the public debate about the appointment of businessman and contractor Brian “BK” Tiwari as an adviser on business development to Minister Joseph Harmon.According to Nagamootoo, the time frame will also be set for submissions. He said Government was also seeking to solicit best practices from other Caribbean countries.“I have already asked for copies of integrity legislation from Trinidad and we are looking how to merge the Code of Conduct with the integrity legislation… integrity legislation would demand requirement of someone who holds public office and the Code of Conduct is setting either a higher or lower standard,” he assured.As it is now, Nagamootoo said, “We will have to wait, I believe not later than six weeks for the submissions to be made.”At the beginning of March, Government had said that it was extending the countrywide consultation on the subject, opening opportunities for civil society to give its extensive input on the way forward. However, up until now, nothing has been forthcoming.According to the Ministry of the Presidency, the purpose of the Code of Conduct is to assist Ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) and public office holders in the discharge of their obligations to their constituents and the public at large.It provides guidance on the values – the moral qualities – that should govern the conduct of Ministers and MPs in discharging their parliamentary and public duties. It is also meant to reinforce public confidence in the way in which Ministers and public office holders perform those duties.Ministers, by virtue of the oath or affirmation of allegiance taken when they are elected, have a duty to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, according to law.Public office holders are duty-bound by this Code in all aspects of their public life. This Code does not seek to regulate the conduct of public office holders in their private and personal lives.Public office holders have a duty to uphold the law, including the general law against discrimination and sexual harassment, and to act with propriety on all occasions in accordance with the public trust and confidence placed in them.Public office holders have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole and owe a special duty of care to their constituents, and citizens.The Code of Conduct says that the acceptance of gifts and other forms of rewards worth more than $10,000 by Ministers, MPs and other public office holders in their official capacity shall be reported to the Integrity Commission. Ministers, MPs and public office holders should consider declining such gratuities if the acceptance of same could be perceived to have an effect on their objectivity and lead to complaints of bias or impropriety.The Code of Conduct lays out that Ministers, MPs and public office holders should also avoid using their official position or transmitting any information made available to them in the course of their duties to benefit themselves, their relations or any other individuals with whom they are associated. They should avoid compromising themselves or their office and any action which may lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest. Failure to avoid or declare any conflict of interest may give rise to criticism of favouritism, abuse of authority or even allegations of corruption.
The life of a newborn baby boy was recently cut short due to alleged negligence of practitioners at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) after he succumbed shortly after burns received from a headlamp in one of the incubators.Little Quavon Forde was born in December 2018 in what was termed a premature birth since he arrived one month earlier than expected.His grandmother, Sharon Harding, in an interview with this publication on Wednesday, explained that the baby was incubated until he was fully developed and his parents were allowed to visit every day. On a subsequent visit some days later, his mother, Odessa Forde, went to check on her baby and made the shocking discovery that he was severely burnt about his body.Before and after Quavon Forde was burntAccording to the grandmother, the child’s mother immediately called on nurses on duty, who shrugged off the matter, insisting that they were unaware of the circumstances. Relatives later learnt that a headlamp would have caused the injuries after doctors briefed them on what transpired.“I told her to ask the nurses around and she kept asking but all the nurses would tell us is that they wasn’t there or they don’t know about that,” the aggrieved grandmother relayed.Asserting that “specialists” would be present to treat the burns, the child was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where he was later discharged on January 21, 2019, while his wounds were yet to be healed.“She saw a doctor and the doctor told her that it was a headlamp that fall and burn the baby and she must not worry because they brought in specialists to take care of the baby burns,” the grandmother relayed.“I’m assuming that they noticed themselves that the child couldn’t make it and they subsequently discharged this baby and handed it over to her.”A few days later, she noticed that the baby was in agony and was constantly crying. He was readmitted to the hospital where doctors failed in their attempts to save him on February 8.“He was groaning and the burns on the foot wasn’t healed. They discharged this baby wrapped in gauze so we took him back where he was admitted to the ICU. However, later, they said they couldn’t save him,” Harding explained.The grandmother said she contacted the Chief Executive Officer of the hospital, George Lewis, but he refuted claims that the baby died as a result of the burns sustained about his body, but rather from the fact the he was born premature.Harding said their troubles did not end there, saying that they faced numerous encounters when the post-mortem examination was due.On Wednesday, efforts by this publication to get a comment from GPHC’s officials proved futile.The death of the baby comes amid mounting calls for public health officials to be sanctioned for negligence.A series of protests have been held outside of the Public Health Ministry after three children, all cancer patients, died under questionable circumstances at the Georgetown Hospital last month.An investigation has since been launched into that incident.Devastated family members are calling for transparency in the investigation and for the family to be informed of the outcome. Adding to that, Harding said such matters require urgent attention to ensure that there is never a recurrence. read more