The no-confidence motion will be debated immediately upon the resumption of the National Assembly. The AFC has ill-timed this motion and has boxed both itself and APNU into a position whereby it is impossible for them to withdraw this motion.
The only thing that can stop this motion going ahead is a ruling from the Speaker that the wording of the no-confidence motion does not satisfy the requirements of a parliamentary motion.
A motion has to be debated. For any debate to take place it has to be based on some grounds. A motion expressing lack of confidence in the government has to therefore include in its wording the basis for any lack of confidence. The National Assembly cannot be expected to debate a one line motion. The flaw in the wording of the no-confidence motion can force the Speaker to disallow the debate on the motion. There is also the possibility that the government moving a motion of confidence in itself. This has to take precedence over a motion of no-confidence. The government can use this ploy to delay the introduction of the no-confidence motion.
When tabled and debated, the passage of any no-confidence motion is inevitable. The opposition parties believe that the only way to force changes in the governance of Guyana is to change the government. As such, the opposition parties have no other choice but to return to the polls. The problem, of course, is what happens if the PPP returns to the Executive as a result of elections emanating from the no-confidence motion.
This would be disastrous for the opposition and they are going to be exposed to the threat of serious victimization.
For this and other reasons outlined here, the opposition parties should carefully consider whether their first order of business when the Assembly reconvenes should be the debate on the no-confidence motion.
I want to suggest here that there is another important issue, relevant to the fortunes of the opposition parties in elections, which needs to be addressed as a matter of priority when the National Assembly reconvenes.
This matter concerns the E-mailgate revelations published in this newspaper. If the motion of no-confidence is the first order of business, then it means that the allegations that taxpayers’ information being shared with a private citizen would not be debated. This would be unfortunate since this controversy is of such a grave nature and involve serious issues of breaches of the public trust, that it must be deliberated on by the National Assembly.
A motion of con-confidence would also mean that the Economic Services Committee, an important oversight body, would be unable to hold hearings on the emails which have been made public.
It would be foolish of the opposition parties to not at this stage press for an independent Commission of Inquiry into these allegations. This is a necessary step to help restore public confidence in the Guyana Revenue Authority. Public confidence in that body has been rocked by the publication of emails purported to have emanated from that institution.
If the opposition parties are truly interested in ensuring that no public institution becomes an albatross of oppression around the necks of Guyana’s citizens, it should press for an investigation into the alleged breaches of confidentiality within the Guyana Revenue Authority.
Public confidence in the Guyana Revenue Authority has to be restored. And as suggested in a recent editorial within the Stabroek News, this confidence is not going to be restored by resort to appeals to the governing Board of the GRA or to the government. It can only be restored by parliamentary action. While the government can refuse to implement any recommendations or demands made in a motion, a debate would ventilate a number of important issues of national importance, including the perversion of national institutions that should be free of political bias. If a country’s tax institution is subject to political influence, this can undermine political freedom because every citizen in this country is subject to taxation and if the agency administering such taxation is alleged to be operating under political influence then every citizen would be subjected to its oppressive power.
This is how serious the charges are against the GRA. It is of national importance that this institution be freed of any political manipulation and placed on a professional footing. If persons need to be removed for this to happen, it must happen as a matter of critical national importance.
The issue of a breach of confidentiality also needs to be enquired into. Such an inquiry is within the remit of the Economic Services Committee and should be at least initiated before any no-confidence motion is passed. Such a committee may also choose to widen the scope of its investigation to determine whether the Guyana Revenue Authority has been efficiently executing its mandate.
I will tell you why all of this is relevant to elections. The AFC’s says that it can campaign without raising funds. This is cockamamie talk. Money is needed to win elections and the bulk of election campaign finance comes from the business community.
If the private sector feel that they are likely to be victimized should they be associated with or donate funds to any opposition parties, this goes to the very heart of the fairness of an election. In other words, ensuring that people are not afraid of being victimized by the tax authorities because of their political affiliations or support is a necessary condition for a fair poll.
The fairness of the election will also be compromised if the opposition parties do not have access to the public via the media. If Kaieteur News is forced to close down tomorrow because of the trumped up charges and other plots which are being planned for this newspaper, then there will be little left of the independent media because you can bet that once the oppressors are finished with Kaieteur News they will move on to shut down the Stabroek News.
This is why, notwithstanding the inevitable passage of the no- confidence motion, it is necessary for the investigation into the GRA to become the first order of business when the National Assembly reconvenes.
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