Failure to assent to Bills that were passed by the National Assembly, and ensure the successful establishment of the Tripartite Budget Committee, are among the top reasons which formed the basis for the Leader of the Opposition’s contention that President Donald Ramotar has displayed “gross disrespect for the National Assembly.”
Parliamentarian David Granger made this assertion yesterday during his press conference which focused on looming early general elections and broken promises by the government.
Granger, at the press conference which was held at the Party’s Hadfield Street Headquarters, stated in no uncertain terms, Ramotar must remember his promises and respect the National Assembly. In elaborating on this point, Granger said that when Ramotar was pegged as the Presidential candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), he made a solemn promise in his Party’s election manifesto- Working Together for a Better Tomorrow.
In that manifesto, Ramotar had stated that, “In the area of local government and governance, the next PPPC government will ensure, within one year of the 2011 general elections, that local government elections are held bringing much needed reinvigoration into local government entities.”
The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) parliamentarian made the point that nearly three years have passed since elections were held and Ramotar has failed to honour his words. Granger deduced that if the President could not keep his promise on this critical issue, then it is logical to question whether he will keep any of his other promises.
He elaborated that President Ramotar has “displayed gross disrespect for the National Assembly by refusing to assent to a Bill that was approved after careful scrutiny and arduous work.”
“He (Ramotar) is aware also that the PPP/C, while he was a member of the National Assembly and that was when his Party enjoyed a majority, repeatedly passed amendments for twelve consecutive years since 1997 to defer the holding of local government elections.”
Granger emphasized the fact that Ramotar refused to assent to the Local Government (Amendment) Bill which had been passed by the National Assembly along with the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill, the Local Government Commission Bill and the Fiscal Transfers Bill. Ramotar, he said, also ignored the Local Authorities (Elections Amendment) Bill 2013 which states that elections must be held on or before August 1, 2014. He also ignored calls by the international community to hold elections.
The politician stated that Ramotar also allowed his ministers of local government and regional development to destroy numerous local democratic councils, although it was not without resistance.
Granger reminded that residents staged protests at the Corriverton municipality and the Ireng-Sawariwau, Port Kaituma-Arakaka, Mathew’s Ridge and Kwakwani and other communities against government installed interim management committees.
In concluding his opening statements, Granger said that the PPP/C for over two decades, demonstrated its unwillingness to introduce local government reform. He said too that the government has deliberately underfunded municipalities and neighbourhoods, and deliberately destabilized democratically-elected local councils thereby inhibiting their development. He insisted that the A Partnership for National Unity remains committed to local democracy and to providing a good life for all Guyanese.
Strongly supporting his leader on the issue was APNU’s Shadow Minister for Local Government, Ronald Bulkan. The Opposition Parliamentarian expressed through the use of newspaper clippings, how residents are crying out about the deplorable state of some areas of Guyana, yet their plights continue to fall on deaf ears. “We have a rogue administration…There are broken communities, disorder and decay because government has failed to honour promises to hold local government elections.”
When asked by this publication to cite other instances where the President has disrespected the Parliament, Granger said that his Party has advanced a number of proposals which include the Tripartite Budget Committee, and at the last budget debate, the establishment of a high level negotiating team. But the idea of the team was “blown to bits” by the PPP and the Budget committee was never realized. Granger added that some of the humanitarian resolutions were never implemented, particularly those relating to investigations into torture by the Guyana Police Force and trafficking in persons. “But the government has never seen it fit to implement them and so there has been a lot of damage done to the country by the mere governance of the PPP.”
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