By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Leader David Granger has defended what has recently been criticized as being “disappointing” the performance of himself and the opposition coalition he heads – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – in the Tenth Parliament.
The Opposition Leader told a news conference this morning (Friday, October 03), that he is “very satisfied” with APNU’s performance in the house since 2012; adding that tremendous progress has been recorded.
Chartered Accountant and Financial Commentator, Christopher Ram, in a recent article, said the parliamentary performance of the majority Opposition in the Tenth Parliament leaves much to be desired.
He described the Opposition’s performance as “disappointing” and “depressing”; pointing out that of 21 Bills tabled, only one came from the Opposition benches.
“People who question APNU’s performance need to examine the role of the Opposition, the resources available to the Opposition and the progress made in making the government more accountable in insisting on transparency and holding Ministers accountable,” Granger reasoned as he dismissed Ram’s assertions.
He described Ram’s assessment of the Opposition’s work as “unfair” and “misguided”; adding that he has no time for such comments.
He went on to argue that it was because of action taken in the House by the Opposition that caused the administration to avoid catastrophes.
“The Opposition is the one making the country a better and safer place because of work we are doing in the House,” he said; adding that “People who criticize us also need to examine the progress we have made in attempting to make the parliament office a truly autonomous body and independent of executive branch.”
Granger said a report from 2005 has clearly shown what a travesty parliamentary democracy was under the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
“We have had an uphill struggle to make Parliament more accountable to the people and make parliament a forum where real issues can be debated and discussed.”
Granger said too that the number of Bills tabled does not represent parliamentary democracy and should be used to judge performance even as he urges critics to look at what obtain in the Assembly prior to 2012.
“There is a qualitative difference… that’s why you are hearing now about things like no confidence motion, because there has been a real change. We are holding the government accountable… there is no use pass 10 or 12 Bills and the government is still doing what it likes,” the Opposition Leader pointed out.
He said the government knows now that it cannot fool around anymore and its MPs have to give explanation to the House. He said too that things that were rampant in previous parliaments cannot take place now.
Ram in criticizing the nine weeks recess taken by the House said “every other word is about corruption. Why have we not seen the tabling of any anti-corruption bills? And a proper Access To Information bill? These are all important things that the opposition – in light of the fact that they have a combined majority – should have jumped on and capitalized on during this time.”
He said too that “issues like local government elections and even the state of the Auditor General’s office should also be priorities. We have legislation for local government reforms for 15 years now pending. What is happening to the Parliamentarians? Some of them have been there for 10 to 15 to 20 years now…what have they achieved? Why can’t we have local government elections while the legislation is being worked on? The Linden shootings…three people…should not have died…there is need for the reforms and elections,” Ram stated emphatically.