By Kiana Wilburg
While politicians are currently courting the public as the time for the debate over the No-Confidence Motion draws
near, criticisms have continued to increase as to whether the political opposition has and is, performing at its best, in and out of the National Assembly.
Leader of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger, expressed at his last held weekly press conference that he is most satisfied with the performance of his parliamentarians. In previous interviews with this publication, Granger had cited the lack of resources, among other factors to be the main reason why the opposition has not been able to effectively exercise its muscle, when it comes to ensuring that the government is held accountable for its actions.
While critics have bemoaned Granger’s position on the lack of resources, Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan, is in agreement with the APNU Leader.
Ramjattan expressed via a telephone interview with this publication that the lack of resources is a frustration not just to APNU, but to the AFC, and is a factor which has essentially made the Opposition weaker.
He noted that the Opposition is “constrained and deliberately made ineffective by the non-grant of facility of researchers and experts to help its members in the analysis of major areas of policy and finance among others.”
He explained that the culprit behind this is the Government, which continues to deny the Parliament a Budget Office. This Office, he explained, would certainly assist in scrutinizing Government’s appropriations and recommending an Opposition alternative.
“The constraint Mr. Granger talks about is certainly a significant and real one and we in the AFC suffer from it as well. Many things we would have to fund and do on our own, if we have to get the research and specialized analysis on certain matters, we have to do it on our own. We are supposed to have the ability to employ the relevant experts on it.
“But the Government does not want us to enjoy that benefit. As it relates to the critics who feel we ought to do better, they need to understand that what Mr. Granger is talking about is most certainly a serious reality, and because the Government denies us certain benefits, it has made us weaker and we are challenged. Many of the things that we would want to do are left in limbo because of the lack of resources,” Ramjattan asserted.
On the question of the discrimination of benefits given to APNU’s Leader as against the AFC Leader, he explained, “Mr. Granger is entitled to certain things for his office as Leader of the Opposition, and the AFC respects that and is not envious of that.”
Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram had accused the APNU Leader, and some of his parliamentarians, of being “ineffective” and “incompetent” if one were to examine their parliamentary contributions.
This is just one of the criticisms Ram made in a detailed two-part analysis of APNU which was published in July and August. Ram opined that the political opposition coalition makes too many excuses for its “poor performance.”
Ram had commented on APNU’s “usual cry” of lack of resources being the cause for the coalition’s inability to perform effectively in the National Assembly.
In the face of some of Ram’s criticisms, Granger had said that he finds Ram’s comments to be “unreasonable, misguided and unfair.” He insisted that he is pleased with the performances and contributions of his parliamentarians.
Ram on his website, www.chrisram.com explained that his analysis of APNU was spurred by a press conference a few months ago to mark the third anniversary of the coalition.
He made reference to comments made by Granger, who had said that as the major opposition force in the National Assembly, and given its relatively “brief existence” it has made major progress despite the serious lack of facilities and resources.
Ram had also made reference to the fact that Granger had disagreed with the critics who said, since last year that APNU has not done adequate work. Granger had disagreed then, and he disagrees now.
With 26 members in the National Assembly, Ram insisted that APNU would have been “expected to do more – much, much more”.
Granger had said, “I believe the people who question the APNU need to examine the role of the opposition, the resources available and the progress we made in making the government more accountable and on insisting on transparency…
“They also need to examine the progress we have made in attempting to make the Parliament office and the National Assembly truly autonomous and independent of the executive branch …
“We have had an uphill struggle in making this government more accountable to the people and to make the Parliament a place where real issues can be discussed.”
“I am satisfied with what the APNU has done and I feel we have made tremendous progress over the last thirty months or more…I am very satisfied.”
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