House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland sparked further public outrage when he rejected a motion presented by the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) to have a debate on the Government’s closure of the Wales Sugar Estate.
PPP/C Member of Parliament Komal Chand rose before the National Assembly on Thursday to present the motion to have a debate on the issue in light of the immense public fury the announcement has generated in the past few days.
Chand, who incidentally is the Head of the Guyana General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) emphasised that the impending closure will create a rippling effect, not only on the sugar workers and their families but on the thousands of people in the communities and will eventually have immeasurable damage to the economy.
He then underscored the importance of having the motion debated, noting that the livelihood of thousands of Guyanese are at stake.
The House Speaker in response to the motion presented, explained that for such requests to be granted, it must underline three critical elements: the issue must be definite, it must hold public importance and it must be urgent.
Dr Scotland conceded that the motion put forward indeed was a definite issue and has generated much public interest however he did not believe that the matter was urgent.
On that note, the Speaker declared that the motion is disallowed.
Resolute to have the motion debated, Opposition Members rose to their feet in accordance to Standing Order 12 (3) (b) which states if the Speaker’s approval is not given, then at least 18 elected members can stand in support of the request made.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira explained, “the motion shall stand over until 5pm the same day and at that time any proceedings on which the Assembly is engaged shall be postponed until the motion for the adjournment is disposed of or until 9pm.”
Teixeira also contended that the matter cannot simply be left until December 2016 before it can be deemed urgent.
Notwithstanding, the House Speaker maintained his ruling. He pointed out that the Standing Order (3) (b) can only take effect if the Speaker is so satisfied.
Against this backdrop, the Speaker reiterated that the motion was disallowed and the matter of the closure of the Wales Sugar Estate will not be up for debate within the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Chand in an invited comment expressed that it is most disappointing that the Speaker did not approve the matter for discussion.
Responding to the Speaker’s pronouncement that the matter is not urgent, Chand said, “May I point out that the matter is most urgent in that immediate steps have been taken since the Ministry issued the statement announcing the closure. For example, since the announcement, approximately 800 acres of tilled land is left abandoned as the planting of canes is not permitted and allowed.”
He also pointed out that the Guyana Sugar Corporation GuySuCo has already moved the ploughing machines assigned to Wales Estate to Uitvlugt.”