Govt to render Opposition one-seat majority useless – Cabinet Secretary
The laws of Guyana are so designed to ensure that the President of the Republic is entitled to assent to legislation before they can become law. This state of affairs was amplified yesterday by Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, as he sought to indicate that the parliamentary opposition’s one-seat could verily be of no effect when parliamentary sessions resume on Monday.
Speaking at his weekly press briefing, yesterday, Dr. Luncheon expressed his expectation that the occasion would present an opportunity for the prevailing opposition rhetoric to be constructively addressed, even as he noted that the current situation is filled with increasing uncertainty.
The situation is further compounded, according to Dr. Luncheon, since Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, continues to ignore sound advice from experienced current and former parliamentarians, and recognised authoritative sources.
The Cabinet Secretary stated, too, that items on the Order Paper slated for the resumption of parliament attest to the Speaker’s indulgence of the opposition and his accommodation with the opposition strategies.
He disclosed that the Speaker was, and is aware of Government’s position on two motions by the opposition. The motions are the President’s Pension, and the Financial Management and Accountability Act Amendment Bills.
The Clerk of the National Assembly Bill is another that the government has rejected, Dr. Luncheon added. This view was communicated to the Speaker. “The administration has signalled its objection to these Bills and the adherence or really the lack of an adherence thereof to parliamentary norms and procedures remains an area of great controversy,” Dr. Luncheon noted.
According to Dr. Luncheon, “The Speaker, Cabinet asserts, should recall President Ramotar’s most recent admonition about the provision of presidential assent to the two pieces of legislation….”
He sought to further emphasise that the opposition’s resolve to impose its one-seat majority and its uncompromising stance will continue to present room for much discord.
Against this background, he said that the Speaker has been written to regarding the intentions of the membership and the chairmanship of the parliamentary special select committees.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the question has been pointedly asked if opposition members of parliament will chair all such committees on the basis of their one-seat majority even when a Government Bill is referred to these committees.
“The answers are uncertain and the immediate past, which is the pre-recess period, since the first sitting in 2012 of the tenth Parliament…the immediate past is not reassuring,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
Just recently, Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, David Granger, commenting on the need for the President to assent to Bills, said that there are intervening mechanisms that can be engaged. He said that “the president does not have absolute dictatorial powers so he is obliged to confirm to certain requirements of the National Assembly.”
According to Granger, if the President fails to assent to Bills submitted by the opposition, not only will he have to show cause, but it could in fact lead to a “collision” which could see other Government business being affected.
“We have had this problem before during the 2012 budget and we are better prepared to deal with the resistance and opposition by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). The lessons we have learnt from the previous parliament is that the two opposition parties have to continue their collaboration and this is what we are doing.”