By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Cabinet meeting is the weekly forum at which key issues concerning the nation’s wellbeing are discussed. At this very forum, decisions are made and later disseminated to respective agencies in need of executive guidance on certain critical matters. Considering this fact, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo told the media that he was at a loss when he found out that Cabinet is in “recess”.
Jagdeo spoke about this at his most recent press conference held on Thursday last at his Church Street Office.
Jagdeo told the media that his “sources” told him that Cabinet is in recess, “and as you know, well the entire country knows, Parliament is in recess, that one is no secret.”
Kaieteur News confirmed with at least two Ministers that “Cabinet is on a break.”
One of the Ministers sought to explain, “I would not call it a recess. But we are not meeting, no. No, we did not meet this week.”
The Ministers explained that some of their colleagues are out of the country, “Some on official business and some are on vacation.”
Indeed, at least two weeks have passed since the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, met with the media at what is supposed to be a weekly post-Cabinet briefing.
At his press conference, Jagdeo said that this is the first time he has ever heard about Cabinet going into recess.
Jagdeo said, “In the 23 years of the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) government, I have never known the Cabinet to go into recess—at least definitely not in the over 12 years I was President. I was in the Cabinet for a significant part of the entire period and we’ve never gone into recess.”
Jagdeo said that PPP ministers were not even allowed to go on leave as they like, “even though it was provided for.”
The former President said, “In fact…we did not have a fixed schedule for ministers with leave. I said to them in my tenure, you will have to get the approval every time you want to go on leave. And we never had ministers taking long periods. They would take a week or two or so.”
He continued, “Now this is a routine thing. I heard our ministers are abroad doing their medicals, paid for by taxpayers through an insurance scheme. Some are on vacation and Cabinet is in recess.”
Jagdeo said that the fact that Cabinet is in recess is especially worrying while a “crisis” is facing Guyana.
The “crisis” Jagdeo was referring to was the teachers’ strike for better pay which ended Thursday afternoon. Jagdeo said, “And whilst all of this is happening, we have a crisis with our teachers and our children; crisis because this government has refused to negotiate in good faith with the teachers.”
Throughout Jagdeo’s press conference, he spoke of other matters facing the nation that need to be addressed but, “our Ministers on vacation.”
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