By Kiana Wilburg
Even as members of the Parliament Office gear to continue the business of the National Assembly when it comes out of recess, House Speaker, Raphael Trotman, has hinted to the possibility of the debate over the No-Confidence Motion being “put-off” for months. This is because there are a number of unresolved matters which Members of Parliament still have to address.
But some opposition members have firmly asserted that any delay permitted by the House Speaker over the No-Confidence motion, would not be taken in good faith.
Following the Speaker’s comments at a press conference last Tuesday, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) had further talks on the No-Confidence motion and the APNU subsequently sought to reassure the public that it is in full support of the motion.
At a press conference held yesterday at his Hadfield Street headquarters, APNU Leader, David Granger, was asked whether he was at all concerned by the Speaker’s statements on the possibility of the delay. He said, “I don’t know what he (Trotman) means, I don’t know what he means.”
APNU’s Shadow Minister of Labour, Basil Williams, then questioned, “He actually said that? Or are you drawing an inference?” This publication and other media operatives then reassured him that, that is essentially what the Speaker had said.
The APNU leader eventually expressed that the Speaker’s “words” would suggest, in a narrow interpretation, that the debate could last much longer than “people anticipate but I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it’s two weeks or a month or a year; I cannot say.”
This publication asked the Opposition Leader, again, if considering his most recent affirmation of his coalition’s position on the motion, if the Speaker’s comments worry him at all. Granger skirted around the question and said that he would be concerned if President Donald Ramotar did not announce a date for Local Government Elections. He added that he would also be concerned if the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) makes a move to derail the Motion when it comes up for debate.
While the APNU Leader held this position, his Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, in an interview with this publication, was most expressive on the matter.
Greenidge told Kaieteur News that he is puzzled as to how Trotman arrived at that conclusion. “That is a possibility for every single matter on the Order paper coming to the Assembly,” the politician asserted.
The former Finance Minister added, “Unless the AFC has decided not to proceed with the Motion, I do not see how it could languish. The APNU cannot and would not suggest that they withdraw or defer it. Therefore, if the AFC has revisited its position it should say so. As it relates to the debate lasting for months, he said that is a matter for the majority.”
Greenidge, for the purpose of clarity on his position, made reference to the most important Motion that comes to the Assembly each year —the Annual Budget and Appropriation Bill. He claims that the debate over this Bill doesn’t last a month.
Greenidge said that it is important for one to consider how the Speaker finds it possible to think of permitting a debate on the Motion to last months or even allowing any delays.
“I do not see how it could be acceptable. I can say without fear of contradiction that even a month long debate will not find favour with the APNU. No more time should be permitted for it than the Budget debate. Whoever is peddling that line would be better advised to look for another diversion,” the APNU Parliamentarian asserted.
Greenidge believes that the sowing of this type of uncertainty is unhelpful at this stage. He asserted that “this is not the time to get cold feet or to be put off by the PPP” for citizens have seen the “dirty tricks” that the government is prepared to play and it is imperative that the Opposition does not betray their trust.
He said that the government will promise all types of dire retribution by the court. However, Greenidge said that just as the politicians are answerable to the electorate, the local courts will be answerable to the Caribbean Court of Justice and ultimately to the public, whether directly or indirectly.
Nevertheless, the Opposition member expressed great satisfaction that the House Speaker will be taking the precaution of seeking external advice for he believes that the House will be put to the ultimate test throughout the coming session.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee concluded that there should be no confusion amongst the Opposition ranks on this matter. He said that the Order papers before the Assembly will be considered in turn and the Opposition will “sanction the Government and its acolytes” with all the tools at its disposal.
“The No-Confidence motion and elections will follow. There is nothing that the PPP can offer us at this stage to turn us away from that path,” Greenidge added.
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