The ruling Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) is accusing Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman of being part of a sinister plot to destabilize its parliamentary agenda.
The accusation came following a ruling by Trotman which refused to refer Alliance for Change Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan and Member of Parliament Cathy Hughes to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges.
Government, through its Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira had written to the Speaker complaining that Hughes should have disclosed the financial interest of herself and husband in the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project during the debates on the Hydro Electric Bill and the debt ceiling motions.
However, according to the Speaker in his ruling, there is no Standing Order that regulates or dictates disclosure of interests.
Government in their bid to have the AFC Leader sent to the Privileges Committee, complained that Ramjattan voted against monies for the construction of the Specialty Hospital knowing that he was an attorney for Fedder Lloyd, a rival contracting company which had unsuccessfully put in a bid to build the Hospital.
Another complaint against Ramjattan, was the fact that Robert Badal, a financier of the AFC was opposed to the construction of the Marriott Hotel perpetuated by Ramjattan, who also was not in favour of supporting financing for the Hotel.
There were several other complaints against Ramjattan by Teixeira but in the end, the Speaker found as he did in the case with Hughes that a prima facie case has not been made out against the AFC Leader, and as such did not rule in favour of Government to send him before the Privileges Committee.
The ruling party has since responded expressing its grave concern with the ruling by Speaker.
The PPP/C is arguing that “It is clear that the Speaker has chosen to ignore the merits of the matter brought before him by PPP/C Chief Parliamentary Whip Ms. Gail Teixeira and instead arbitrarily ruled against the sending of the two opposition MPs to the Privileges Committee.”
The party argues that in the case of Ramjattan, there was a violation of the parliamentary procedures and Standing Order 107 which states that a Member of Parliament is not allowed to appear before the Assembly or any Committee thereof as counselor or solicitor for any party or in any capacity for which he or she is to receive a fee or reward.
According to the PPP/C “the case against both opposition MPs could not have been more clear cut…Cathy Hughes was the Public Relations Consultant for Sithe Global and she failed to disclose such information to the National Assembly of which she is a member.”
The party is adamant that in the case of Ramjattan, one of the bidders for the construction of the Specialty Hospital was his client and in clear violation of parliamentary ethics, he voted for the project during the bidding stages.
The party says that after Ramjattan’s client lost out on the contract award, he then voted against the project in 2013 and again in 2014 during consideration of the Budget Estimates.
According to the PPP/C it, “is convinced that the ruling by the Speaker is indicative of a widely held perception, that the Speaker of the National Assembly is not only biased in favour of the opposition parties in Parliament, but also is an integral part of a much broader and sinister opposition plot to frustrate the parliamentary agenda, and ultimately to destabilize the current PPP/C administration.”
The party said too, that it is not oblivious to the known political leaning and pre-disposition of the Speaker having regard to his political DNA, but at the very least expected that he would have displayed some measure of fairness and objectivity in the conduct of his parliamentary duties as Speaker of the House.
“Regrettably, his most recent ruling have shattered whatever little hope one may have of him in that regard, especially when seen against the unbridled haste to commit the Finance Minister Dr, Ashni Singh before the Privileges Committee in the performance of his ministerial duties which, unlike the two opposition MPs, is in full conformity with the laws of the country.”
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