Aug 21, 2015 News
– Govt. accused of bringing anti-Jagdeo agenda to Parliament
By Kiana Wilburg
The coalition administration is already known for bringing a “fresh approach” to the 2015 budget as well as the system of government. But it is apparently trying to do things differently even in the National Assembly.
The Budget 2015 speeches by Parliamentarians are expected to wrap up today with the deliberations over the estimates scheduled for next week.
As is tradition, the Finance Minister is the last speaker today with the Opposition Leader being the second-to-last presenter. Preceding him would be the Prime Minister. Therefore, should this age old custom of the House be followed then Former President Bharrat Jagdeo will be speaking just before Finance Minister Winston Jordan wraps things up.
But the Government does not agree with this. In fact, it wants Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo to be the second to last speaker.
The issue caused Opposition’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, to approach House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland to rectify the matter which goes against the traditions of the National Assembly.
But up to press time, this matter was unresolved. It has forced members of the Opposition to deduce that the government simply has an “Anti-Jagdeo” agenda which it has brought to the honourable House.
A press conference was later held by members of the PPP in Committee Room Two of the Parliament to register their disappointment in the government’s behaviour.
Former Minister of Tourism, Irfaan Ali who chaired the briefing, was the first to inform the media that the action is not merely simplistic but a slap in the face of democracy.
Teixeira then proceeded to relate to the media a disappointing discovery she made after receiving the speaking order for the Members of Parliament today.
“Last night (Wednesday night) I went to speak with the Speaker and the Clerk about what was emerging since Monday where the government Chief Whip, Amna Ally stated that the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, would not be the penultimate speaker and that he be constrained by the time frame of 45 minutes …we had an argument and I made it clear that the Opposition Leader of Guyana is always the penultimate speaker and the Minister of Finance Minister closes it.”
The politician continued, “The Prime Minster speaks before the Opposition Leader so the order of the speakers is: Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and then Finance Minister.”
Teixeira said that she even went to the House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland to express her concern about this looming development.
To her dismay, the Opposition Chief Whip said that Ally yesterday presented to her the list of speakers which revealed that the Prime Minister instead of Jagdeo is the second to last speaker.
“We made it clear to Dr. Scotland that we will not accept the parliamentary convention being flouted,” Teixeira added.
She emphasized that since 1992, the PPP has never shown disrespect to those who served as opposition leaders, whether it was the late former President Desmond Hoyte, Robert Corbin or current President David Granger. She said, too, that there were instances when Hoyte and Corbin spoke for two hours and Granger spoke for 45 minutes.
Teixeira said that those persons were never constrained by a time limit. “This is a slap in the face and an attempt to muzzle the opposition and show disrespect to Jagdeo.”
The Opposition Chief Whip said that the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs has been asked to do the necessary research to determine if she or Ally is correct in their respective positions.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said that the matter represents the rapid dismantling of laws and traditions.
PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee also added his voice to the issue stating that it is clear that an “anti-Jagdeo agenda has been taken to parliament.”
He added, “There is certainly an anti-Jagdeo agenda that is playing out in Parliament. I don’t think we are strangers to this agenda, and it is rather unfortunate that it is taken to a place like the Parliament …This anti-Jagdeo agenda is playing out in the court, in the Parliament, the public domain and even in the media. When will this end?”
Rohee said that he hopes that the Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. is paying attention to this matter.
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