Hamilton Green Bill is another ‘unruly attempt to deny us our fair day in Parliament’ – Nandlall

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Opposition parliamentarian Anil Nandlall is concerned about another deferral of Opposition Day in Parliament for the laying of the Hamilton Green Pension Bill today.

Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall

Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister
Anil Nandlall

The Opposition business had been hijacked by Government during the recent sitting and it was subsequently agreed to grant the Opposition Members today to present matters they are desirous of debating in the National Assembly.

However, Government has signalled its intention to present a Bill which provides for former Mayor of Georgetown and Prime Minister Hamilton Green to receive a special pension package.

Nandlall, during an interview on Television Guyana’s programme “The Factor”, expressed annoyance and concern over constant attempts by Government MPs to block People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) MPs from having their day to discuss issues affecting their constituents.

“This is the kind of authoritarian behaviour developing in the Parliament. When we were in the government we respected that and we dared not interfere with the Opposition Day in the National Assembly. Government is always attempting to defeat or defer it. Then when the day is fixed, Government businesses are imposed on that agenda,” he explained.

The recent sitting on November 4 was dedicated to the Opposition, however leader of the Government’s business in the House had moved a motion – in keeping with the Standing Orders – to have Government’s business take precedence, namely a debate, to approve the policies that had been outlined by Head of State David Granger when he addressed the House on its return from its 2016 annual recess.

After publicly venting about parliamentary democracy being under threat, it was agreed to grant the Opposition today to discuss its business.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Irfaan Ali, was slated to move a motion on the Parking Meter Project being implemented in Georgetown.

Ali and the PPP/C will be looking to garner Government’s support to have the National Assembly call on the Auditor General to immediately conduct a forensic audit of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), including the parking meter contract.

Former Junior Finance Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, is also expected to seek House approval for an inquiry into the multi-million-dollar D’Urban Park Project, and Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira is also expected to move a motion named and related to the report from the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service.

However, Government plans on presenting the highly controversial Hamilton Green Pension Bill in the National Assembly, which will most likely once again take away from Opposition Day.

“It’s a continuous state of unruly attempts to deny us our fair day in Parliament,” Nandlall vented.

Commenting on the Bill, the former Attorney General said there are numerous questions surrounding Government’s spontaneous decision to give Green, who served as Prime Minister decades ago, a prime ministerial pension.

“We believe that persons who have served and are deserving of a pension should be given a pension (but) Green was Prime Minister generations ago. The people he served, half of them are not alive,” he posited.

Nandlall also contended that Green was already getting a special package from the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for his stewardship as Mayor of Georgetown.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had also argued that it was extremely duplicitous that the very politicians who previously cried about the “raping of the Treasury” to fund pensions, salaries and benefits of past government officials are now moving to Parliament to grant Green a special package.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) has also labelled the Bill “obnoxious” and exposed that the only justification for the Bill is cronyism.

The GHRA also outlined that to date, Green, a former Mayor of Georgetown, never apologised for the humiliation, hardship and violence to which Guyanese were subjected to during his harrowing term of office, adding that had Dr Jagan in 1992 not ‘drawn a veil’ over the past in the interests of social peace, Green would have found himself facing the courts.

Another ground proffered by the Rights Association is that the idea that former Presidents and senior politicians deserve to be treated as ‘Princes of the City’ with excessive pensions and benefits reinforces rather than undermines the repugnant notion that the purpose of politics is to enrich politicians.

The GHRA’s statement went on to say too that a personalised Bill to reward Green for a lifetime of politics marked by incompetence and divisiveness is provocative in the context of the current Administration’s anti-corruption campaign.

Incumbent Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s only objection to the Bill is that it should not be isolated to Green alone.

Nagamootoo wants the benefits to be extended to all former Prime Ministers.

The Bill provides for Green to receive all benefits provided for by the Former President (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2015.

The value of these benefits are an annual pension of $20,580,000, other benefits to the value of $3.1 million annually, two vehicles provided and maintained by the State, and two first-class annual airfares provided by the State. Additionally, the former Prime Minister also qualifies for an ex-Parliamentarian pension, together with whatever benefits accrue from his period as Mayor of Georgetown. (Guyana Times)

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