“They are clever people. It is just that they are not specialists in the areas.” That is a bit of what Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo had to say when faced with questions about the level of representation the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has been having at some parliamentary committees.
PPP/C has been posing many questions through the media pertaining to issues of national interest. However, the PPP/C has been employing this mechanism despite the fact that there are several Parliamentary forums available to the opposition to have its questions answered.
At the most recent press conference of the Opposition Leader, Kaieteur News highlighted the fact that some opposition members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources seem to lack the capability of holding the government accountable at these meetings. The fact that most questions at the last meeting were posed by PPP/C’s Odinga Lumumba was also noted.
Jagdeo said, “Let me be truthful; yesterday (last Wednesday) at 1:00hrs, I had a meeting with the members of that committee. I said that whilst I was happy with what took place I am not satisfied that, for such an important committee, we do enough preparation to hold the government to account…”
Jagdeo revealed that that meeting saw an agreement being made that “they will seek guidance from the others because we work as a collective. Some may not be specialists in the areas that are going to be discussed. But we can have specialist assessments that will guide them in the questioning of the people who come before the committee.”
The Opposition Member said that Minister of Public Infrastructure with responsibility for Energy, David Patterson will soon go before the committee to talk about the gas to energy project as well as the Amaila Hydro Power Project.
Jagdeo said, “Most of our people are not specialists on hydro or gas but I think we have enough questions to ask on both projects and what they are doing now about electricity.”
Jagdeo is convinced that the PPP’s preparation will be so strong that it will be able to “expose how vague this government is on a critical matter for our national development and cost of living such as power and the supply of power. With good preparation, our members can do this. They are clever people. It is just that they are not specialists in the area.”
Jagdeo said that the opposition will be doing briefs before all committee meetings now because “It’s a concern of mine not only in this committee but other standing committees. We are going to step up our level of representation in these committees.”
The Sectoral Committees are made up of Government and Opposition parliamentarians and provide a forum for the Ministry and organizations under that sector to be scrutinized.
Opposition members on that Committee are Pauline Campbell-Sukhai, Neendkumar and Yvonne P. Fredericks while the committee is chaired by Odinga Lumumba. The Government is represented by Joseph Harmon, Ronald Bulkan, Audwin Rutherford and Jermaine Figueira.
The Sectoral Committees have the power to examine all policies and administration for each sector to determine whether the execution of projects and policies are done in the best interest of the nation.
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