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Nov 11, 2016 News
– rejects allegations by Opposition
By Kiana Wilburg
Contrary to what is being bandied about by the political opposition, the Government has not hijacked
any day in the National Assembly that was rightfully designated Private Members’ Day.
This is according to Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally.
In fact, the Government Chief Whip told members of the media fraternity yesterday that the administration has played and continues to play by the rules when it comes to the sitting of the House.
Ally stressed that the business of Parliament is guided by the Standing Orders, which along with the Constitution, outline when the Opposition is entitled to have its day in the House.
She added, “Every fourth sitting of the Parliament, except at budget times, is what we call Members’ Day or the Opposition’s day. November 4, last, which saw the most recent Parliamentary Sitting, was for Government’s business.”
The PPP has contended otherwise.
According to the Opposition’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, November 4, last, was designated Private Members’ Day. In fact, an Order Paper was circulated to Members of Parliament reflecting same. However, instead of this being used to guide the proceedings of the House on that day, a supplementary paper was laid on November 1, last, which indicated that the President’s latest speech would be debated in the National Assembly.
Ally however maintains that November 4, last, was designated for Government’s business. She said that the Order Paper which was circulated reflecting otherwise was a mistake on the part of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.
“When we look at the whole scenario, it was discovered that the next Members’ day will be until next year, sometime in January. However, at the behest of the Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland, the Opposition Chief Whip and I had discussions and we conceded to have the next parliamentary sitting on November 21, which would be given to the Opposition to deal with their matters,” the Minister of Social Cohesion explained.
Ally added, “I want to say too that the Opposition Chief whip is au fait with the Standing Orders and the Constitution, and so I don’t think it is a matter of misconception…but it must be corrected now, regardless of how painful it seems. We have to work with what the Standing Orders and the Constitution say, lest we fall into chaos.”
The Opposition has since noted that the role of a parliamentary opposition to hold the government accountable and to have its day in the legislature is a fundamental premise guarded in democratic parliaments. It noted that in the 17 months and 44 sittings of the 11th Parliament of Guyana, it has been able to have only four Private Members’ Days or what is more popularly known as “Opposition’s Day.”
The PPP said that these days were December 12, 2015; January 14, 2016, May 14, 2016 and August 4, 2016.
PPP/C Parliamentarians are of the view that they are being subjected to the constant battle to have the right to a Private Members’ Day upheld.
The opposition reminded that the matters it desired to speak to on November 4, last, included the report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service and two controversial projects; namely the Durban Park Development Jubilee Project and the Parking Meter venture.
A motion on the Public Service COI report was supposed to be raised by Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.
According to her motion, the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service was appointed by President David Granger on August 17, 2015. It was expected to examine, advise and report on the salaries, conditions of service, training and other matters pertaining to the improvement of the efficiencies of the performance of the public service and the well-being of the public servants.
Teixeira in her motion notes that the report on the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service was tabled in the National Assembly on May 24, last.
Teixeira wants this report to be placed on the Order Paper for a Sitting of the House before the next recess so that its contents can be debated and recommendations made.
As regards the motion on the contentious Parking Meter Project, this was supposed to be moved by Opposition Member, Irfaan Ali.
In his motion, Ali notes that the Georgetown Mayor and City Council, represented by the Mayor and Town Clerk, has entered into a contractual arrangement with a company (Smart City Solutions) for the installation of Parking Meters in Georgetown.
He noted, however, that the Mayor and City Council has held no public consultations with national stakeholders or the citizens of the city.
As such, the Parliamentarian states, “the citizens of Georgetown and those who drive into, and, must traverse through the Capital to reach other areas of the country, have appealed to the Mayor and City Council to abandon this parking meter project because of the financial hardships it will inflict upon the people.”
He goes on to state that the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Communities and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, has reviewed the parking meter contract and found that the contract may have violated tender procedures; that the contract is too much in favour of the parking meter party and that the cost is burdensome.
Ali said that the Mayor and some councilors, in the face of public opposition, have been adamant that the project will proceed. He also noted in his motion that the company contracted to implement the project has been proceeding, full steam ahead with its implementation plan, with aggressive promotion, importation of equipment and the hiring of staff.
The Opposition member is of the firm belief that there are many legal hurdles and protocols to address, including the yet unresolved critical issue of whether the Mayor and City Council has authority over public roads such as Regent Street, Water Street and Avenue of the Republic.
He said, too, that there are other legal issues involved with granting policing authority to a private company.
Given the aforementioned, Ali wants the National Assembly to call on the Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma, to immediately conduct a forensic audit into the Georgetown Municipal Council, including the Parking Meter Contract.
As for the Durban Park Development Jubilee Project, this was to be taken before the House by PPP Executive Member, Juan Edghill.
In his motion, Edghill says that no public disclosure or consultations were held with the citizens or national stakeholders. The Parliamentarian said that architectural designs and overall projected costs for its construction and completion were not made public.
In the interest of public accountability, transparency and good governance, Edghill wants the House to call upon the Government to make full disclosure on several fronts.
You sucking the dry seed of your own mangoes, while the foreigners eating sweet flesh.
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