Sep 02, 2020 News
– as 12th Parliament gets underway
By Shikema Dey
The 65-members of the National Assembly from the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), the Opposition, A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) along with the single joinder party representative all took their oaths of office and were sworn in as Members of Parliament as Guyana’s 12th parliament convened yesterday.
The first sitting saw a total of $11.2B being approved for constitutional agencies.
Even with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in full swing, a majority of the parliamentarians were sworn in at the Arthur Chung Conference Center.
The others opted to join via the Zoom online platform as the sittings can no longer be held at the designated parliament building due to the virus.
Safety was, however, high on the agenda with a COVID-19 checkpoint set up in the compound which saw each persons, upon entry, being
sanitized from head to toe.The commencement of the 12th Sitting saw seasoned politician, Manzoor Nadir, being elected and sworn in as the Speaker of the National Assembly. He was a former Minister of Labour in the PPP/C government.
He was nominated by Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, and seconded by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Gail Teixeira with no other nominations being made.
In his first address as Speaker, Nadir, a former Minister of Labour vowed to execute his duties with impartiality to see that Guyana’s 12th Sitting
is inscribed in history as the most successful ever.
“Having sat in this House for 23 years plus as a member both on the Opposition and government sides, I understand the importance of this position. I promise to be impartial fair and just while upholding the laws, rules and procedures in the execution of my responsibility as speaker of this noble house. The veracity of this noble institution must and will be uphold at all times during my tenure,” Nadir added.
After that came the nomination of Deputy Speaker and that slot went to Leader of the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) Lenox Shuman, who ousted Opposition MP Raphael Trotman in a vote.
Shuman was nominated by Minister Teixeira while Trotman was nominated by his fellow MP, Cathy Hughes.
With the 33-seating majority, the governing PPP/C side won the count and Shuman too voted for the motion bring the total to 34 against the Opposition’s 31.
Both sides of the House included new and vibrant faces who all expressed their commitment on ensuring that they represent their factions with due diligence.
After each MP took their oath of office, it was down to business with the approval of the $11.2 billion budget for constitutional agencies for the remainder of fiscal year.
Before that, the Opposition walked out.
Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, tabled the capital and current expenditure for each agency on behalf of the government.
With ease, the budgets remained untouched and were approved without the Opposition side.
On the list of agencies with their budgets approved for the period ending December 31 was the Parliament Office which got $1,799,248,000.
The Office of the Auditor General received a $908,636,000 budget with the Public and Police Service Commission getting $150,636,000 and the Teaching Service Commission getting $117,075,000.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) received a whopping $4,943,052,000 budget while the Supreme Court of Judicature received $2,443,164,000 and the Chamber of the Director of Public Prosecution receiving $226,822,000.
Additionally, the Office of the Ombudsman received a budget of $70,001,000 with the Public Service Appellate Tribunal receiving $40,911,000.
The Ethnic Relations Commission received a $220,802,000 budget while Judicial Service Commission was given $10,020,000; Indigenous People’s Commission $24,392,000; the Human Rights Commission $25,958,000 and the Rights of the Child Commission with $46,095,000.
Also being approved was the Women and Gender Equality Commission which had asked for $58,327,000 and the Public Procurement Commission with a budget of $206,460,000.
The country has been surviving without a 2020 budget since 2019 after the last one was passed by the then APNU+AFC government.
The protracted March 2nd General and Regional elections contributed heavily to this as parliament was dissolved in December of 2019.
There was a five months of stalemate with the PPP/C only taking office last month.
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