One of the country’s main business advocacy bodies, the Private Sector Commission (PSC), has unveiled a number
of recommendations to end the current Parliamentary impasse and has called for the work of the National Assembly to resume by or before year end.
Guyana’s Parliament was suspended by President Donald Ramotar on November 10, as he sought to avoid the passing of a No Confidence Motion brought against his government.
After the unprecedented move, Ramotar told the nation that he prorogued the House of the people to facilitate talks with the opposition. But the opposition entities, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), have refused to talk to the government during the period of prorogation, and so everything remains at a standstill.
But the PSC, headed by Ramesh Persaud, has formulated a recommended game plan to direct the way forward. This has been sent to President Ramotar, APNU leader, David Granger, and AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan.
The Commission, in a statement to the press, said that it prepared the proposed solution after consulting with various Civil Society organizations such as representatives of Labour and Religion, but did not specify any of the organizations.
PSC said the politicians can make the first step towards solving the problem by the signing of an agreement. That agreement is one that outlines that the prorogation of Parliament will be ended and the work of the National Assembly will be reconvened no later than December 31.
It also stipulates that a moratorium of one month, commencing at the beginning of the New Year, will be facilitated to give room for dialogue to be attempted, before consideration is given to the dissolution of Parliament or the motion on confidence.
Also, the signing of that agreement will mean that representatives of Civil Society will be allowed to observe the dialogue process in full, once commenced during this period.
The statement sent out by the PSC indicated many of the factors taken into consideration before arriving at the proposed way forward.
One factor that was considered is the fact that the Constitution provides for inclusionary democracy.
Article 13 of the Constitution of Guyana states that: “The principal objective of the political system of the state is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organizations in the management and decision making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision making that directly affect their wellbeing.”
The PSC noted that the 10th Parliament is the first to be constituted as one where the opposition parties occupy the majority and the Government sits in minority, and pronounced that it must be accepted by all that this is the mandate given by the electorate.
The statement noted, “We share the view that there is still room for the life of the 10th Parliament to be preserved once the prorogation comes to an end and the no confidence motion is stayed to make room for a meaningful attempt to dialogue on the important issues that will persist even after elections are held.”
The PSC also indicated that consultations with political parties have revealed a willingness to engage in dialogue, but the body noted that the Opposition parties will only agree to participate in dialogue if Parliament is reconvened.
PSC said that it is imperative for Civil Society to be included as observers to any dialogue process agreed upon, so as to be kept meaningfully informed about the agreements and commitments by all parties in pursuing the interests of those they represent, and hold each accountable for the delivery of results.
The Commission also recommended a few issues to be dealt with during the period of the moratorium. Those include the composition and implementation of all outstanding commissions required by the Constitution and an agreement on a date for Local Government Elections some time before the life of the 10th Parliament comes to an end.
Also, the PSC asked that the mechanism by which the Bills not receiving assent can be resolved, as well as a mechanism for approval of the 2014 supplementary financial papers and statements of excess.
Further, the Commission recommended that an inclusionary mechanism for budget talks of 2015 and 2016 be discussed as well.
The Commission made known its opinion that the measures mentioned may be sufficient to salvage the life of the 10th Parliament where previous items on the Parliamentary agenda can be resuscitated including the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and the Telecommunications Bill.
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