– “We are at the lowest level of political degradation as a result of this gov’t,”
By Kiana Wilburg
“When a government can spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars without permission of the National Assembly, ignore the
plight of the people to lower the Berbice Bridge toll, ignore resolutions that were crafted to bring about substantial change in the lives of citizens, and support a devious attack on the private media by one of its own, it is no longer a question of a lack of ethics. We are witnessing the effects of a constitutional collapse.”
This is the opinion of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU)’s General Secretary, Joseph Harmon.
His comments were made after being apprised of statements by the coalition’s point man on financial matters, Carl Greenidge, who is of the belief that there is a serious lack of ethics, not only among government officials but also among Members of Parliament. While he deems the absence of such an essential quality as damning, he believes that the lack of ethics among parliamentarians will lead to a collapse of constitutional arrangements.
But Harmon disagrees with Greenidge.
“The devastating effects of the current administration’s kind of governance are beyond the mere lack of ethics.”
The politician stated via a telephone interview that at this point, “Guyana is witnessing the lowest level of political degradation as a result of this government. There has been a lack of ethics by many government officials and even some members of parliament long before the Tenth Parliament. But since the 2011 elections, we are experiencing something more frightening than just the effects of lack of ethics by the government.
We are witnessing acts that border on criminality, and in any normal society, a lot of politicians would have been facing the court. Ethics is about morals; the principles that would govern one’s behaviour, but there is a blatant disregard for anything
moral and upright as outlined in our very constitution because the current administration is of the firm belief that it is in power and it can do as it pleases.”
The APNU politician went further to coin his own term to sum up the kind of governance and the level to which the government has sunk. He termed it—”Bad-man-ism.”
Harmon asserted that Attorney General Anil Nandlall, by his very actions, has no regard for the Constitution and has even contributed to “the backward and fearful state that the nation is currently in.”
“The Constitution is just a book that Nandlall waves from left to right in Parliament. He has no respect for it. When you look at the amount of things this government has done and is doing, the delay for the sitting to debate the No-Confidence Motion, the vicious attacks on the media that it has been silent on and supported, the NICIL and Marriott Hotel quandary… I mean with all this… I have not even touched the tip of the crassness taking place. I don’t know how much more we could collapse, but the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is determined to show us that they could go lower than they already are,” the APNU General Secretary lamented.
While Harmon holds this view, Greenidge’s comments on the other hand seemed to be more subtle.
In his interview with Kaieteur News, the former finance minister said that the lack of ethics has played a significant role in eroding the relationship between the administration and the opposition. Greenidge believes that more emphasis should be placed on having constitutional requirements not only for consultation between the political parties on certain matters but also for shared input.
Additionally, Greenidge said that the public needs to avoid confusing disagreement with animosity.
“The Opposition has to be seen and indeed has to try to oppose and expose the Government and to eventually replace it. At times, this generates tension, but does not originate in personal animosity. The latter may eventually arise, but that should not be extreme or dysfunctional.
“In fact, Parliamentarians get on reasonably well with one another most of the time. However, I have said publicly and in Parliament, that during my term as a Minister of Finance and Planning (and Trade) I do not recall members being treated to anything approximating to the harsh language, abuse or coarse behaviour that we have seen since 2011. I was treated politely and with respect by all the Opposition MPs including Boysie Ramkarran and Reepu Daman Persaud. I sought to reciprocate all of the time. That was the culture. Now things have changed. There is a total disregard for ethics by some MPs,” Greenidge lamented.
He said that one reason for the change is that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) believes that once it wins elections, it is entitled to do anything it wishes.
“So there is tremendous anger over attempts to constrain them…and the reaction to not getting its way can sometimes be very vitriolic and abusive,” the former finance minister added.
He said too that ethics among Ministers and politicians need to be urgently and properly addressed and policed if certain constitutional arrangements are not to collapse completely.
In similar vein, Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman opined that without a doubt, the decades-old animosity between government and opposition, the feelings of distrust, betrayal and glaring instances of bad governance and corruption, have hindered the ability of the body-politic to find common ground and for the nation to have sustained growth and stability in general.
Greenidge agreed implicitly with this comment and went further to state that it is a matter that the Parliament needs to tackle urgently.
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