As I read Peeping Tom’s “The Opposition is not in disarray,” (KN, June 15), I couldn’t help remembering a line from Max Ehrmann’s poem, “Desiderata,” that reads thusly, “…even the dull and the ignorant; they, too, have their story.”
Like so many others who share his/her delusional, misguided political thinking, Peeping Tom postulates that the parliamentary opposition’s role is to support or approve every and anything the government puts forward, and any rejection of government motions/bills/proposals must be deemed as anti-national and anti-development. But since when does any government in a democracy have a monopoly on governance and development?
For the record, last February, the government brought two supplementary financial papers to Parliament: G$3.5B (Financial Paper No.8) and G$2.24B (Financial Paper No.7). When discussions on the larger allocation began, APNU’s Carl Greenidge reportedly called on Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh to withdraw the paper and have it resubmitted with more details in keeping with the Financial Management and Accountability Act (FMAA). This was seconded by the AFC’s Khemraj Ramjattan.
Dr. Singh then cried that government was now in ‘uncharted waters’, without even conceding that November 28, 2011 was responsible for the ‘uncharted waters’. Parliament, nevertheless, did approve G$2.16B from Financial Paper #7, which had a G$2.24B tab. Given that Parliament approved G$2.16B and has twice rejected G$79.6M, how can anyone from the PPP’s camp still throw a temper tantrum and label the parliamentary opposition as anti-development or anti-national?
May I tangent off a bit and remind Peeper that KN reported on February 12, “Government continues to abuse Contingencies Fund – Auditor General,” where the AG noted that as of December 31, 2010, “Accounts with overdrafts included the old Consolidated Fund bank account Number 400 which was overdrawn by $46.776 billion and the new Consolidated Fund Bank account Number 407 which was overdrawn by $4.684 billion.” That’s G$50B+ in overdrawn monies!!!
The AG’s Report also pointed to the abuse of amounts totaling over $550M which were drawn from the Contingencies Fund and utilized to meet expenditures that did not meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the Act.
Now, unless there is some other sinister motive best known to the PPP regime for making a mountain out of a molehill over the comparably infinitesimal sum of G$79.6M, why would the parliamentary opposition reject the same amount twice? Remember, Mr. Greenidge did ask that the Finance Minister resubmit the paper with more details in keeping with the FMAA, so the only logical conclusion we can come to is that the minister did not come back with more satisfactory details.
Peeping Tom then went on to sow seeds of fear by introducing a totally different issue – the Budget cuts, which the government has taken before the courts for redress. “The government must now understand the danger that is facing this country because of the lack of a principled opposition,” the Peeper wrote, as s/he then urged the government to “invite representation from senior counsel in the United Kingdom.”
Again, here we have a situation where Parliament approved G$172B in budgeted estimates for 2012 while rejecting G$20B (of which G$18B was for LCDS). Not only is the approved G$172B eleven billion dollars more than last year’s Budget, but the disparity between the amount approved and the amount rejected is huge, and so one wonders whether the government is really upset over the amount that was rejected in the financial paper or cut from the Budget or the fact that the government has not gotten its way.
That the government went to court over the constitutionality of the allocation of parliamentary committee seats and lost, should have signaled to the government that the court believes – and rightly so – that unless Parliament is violating written rules, regulations or laws, then Parliament is an autonomous, self-regulated body that operates on a strict up and down voting system. It makes its own rules and passes laws based on majority votes.
It is that simple, but by going to court to appeal the Chief Justice’s ruling against it and for redress on other recent parliamentary decisions that it finds unfavourable to it, the PPP is coming across as politically petulant, because it is unaccustomed to sharing power space that denies it absolute control.
That being said, should government ever heed Peeper’s advice and seek foreign help to fight its local legal battles, then what is to stop the parliamentary opposition from inviting foreign help to investigate Guyanese with foreign bank accounts and assets who are connected to the corrupt PPP regime?
In closing, I want to say to Peeping Tom and others of his/her political ilk: What is happening in Parliament – primarily the opposition’s decisions – are the results of the will of the people on November 28, 2011, which empowered APNU and the AFC to help the executive branch run the country in a more accountable, responsible and transparent manner.
It is precisely because of the failure of the PPP regime over the last dozen years to engage in good governance behaviour, that it lost control of Parliament last November, and any attempt to undo the will of the people via court or snap elections will constitute a slap in the face of the people, and could be met with a further erosion of support for the boneheaded PPP, which has a hard time reading tea leaves, because it believes its thinking is always right.
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