By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Privileges Committee, before which a matter involving Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh is pending, failed to convene a meeting despite being scheduled to do so last week.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Joseph Harmon told iNews that he received an email from some government Members of Parliament (MPs) indicating their unavailability to attend the meeting that was slated for Friday last.
He said he subsequently received a mail from the Parliament Office informing him that the meeting had been canceled and believes it was the absence of the government MPs that may be responsible.
However, when contacted, Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman said he only received indication from two members of the Committee that they would be available to attend the meeting.
The Speaker registered his disappointment that the meeting was not convened even as the House commenced a two month recess Friday last. Trotman said from all indication it would appear that Opposition members were unavailable too.
Dr. Singh was recently referred to the Committee by Trotman, who is also Chairman of the committee, after the parliamentary opposition objected to the spending of some $4.5 billon; claiming it was illegal and downright disrespectful.
When asked whether he [Harmon] thought it was intentional that the government MPs were unavailable, Harmon said “whether they make themselves available or not the Chairman must determine whether he has a quorum and once he has then he can proceed.”
The Speaker explained that he did not have a quorum on the last occasion to proceed and is yet to set another date.
However, Harmon expressed the belief that since it was the first meeting of the Committee, the Chairman probably wanted all members present but insisted that if government members continue to be absent, then the work of the Committee can go on.
The Committee has 10 members: the Chairman, who is a non-voting member, five government MPs and four opposition MPs.