Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland has received several complaints of ‘breaches of privileges’ which were submitted by Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the House, against each other.
Dr Scotland, during this afternoon’s sitting of the National Assembly, noted that the submissions of complaints may or may not warrant sanctions by him and that he will review and treat with all complaints he is in receipt of.
Chief Whip of the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), Gail Teixeira, in a letter penned to the House Speaker, requested that Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman should apologise over statements made during the consideration of this year’s National Budget.
Teixeira stated that the figures quoted by Minister Trotman, which indicate that the country has no productive forests remaining, would negatively affect Guyana’s relations with Norway. She maintained that such utterances/statements by the Natural Resources Minister are “palpably misleading”.
In her letter, the PPP Chief Whip provided figures that had been obtained from the website of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) which proved otherwise in relation to Minister Trotman’s claim(s).
However, in defence of his statement, the Natural Resources Minister declared that the figures he mentioned were “accurate” and he would be pleased to provide documentation to support his claim.
Trotman told the House that a Norwegian Minister, in a letter to him on February 29, made it clear that his comments have not damaged relations between Guyana and Norway.
Trotman said his statements were made “without any intention of misleading the House”, and as such himself and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo (who repeated what Trotman had said) should not be asked to apologise.
Teixeira, however, requested that Trotman be sent to the Privileges Committee for repeating that sentiment holding firm to the fact that the statements aired by Trotman were contradictory of what is on the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) website.
In light of this, the Natural Resources Minister responded by requesting that Teixeira instead be the one who is sent to the Privileges Committee. A heated debate ensued with the back-and-forth trading of barbs between the two MPs.
Meanwhile, former Finance Minister and PPP MP Juan Edghill has been sent to the Privileges Committee following a motion tabled by government MP Charrandass Persaud in relation to what he deemed “inaccurate statements” made in the National Assembly in December, last.
The motion alleges that Edghill’s statement which calculated that increase in salaries for Government Ministers totaled over Gy$200M per year was inaccurate.
According to Charandass Persaud, these inaccurate figures effectively violate the privileges of the National Assembly and “has brought the House into disrepute.”
The motion he presented to the House today was seconded by Government MP Jermaine Figueira.
Speaker Dr Barton Scotland, in his response to the matter, stated that he is in receipt of the complaint and that the matter would now be sent to the Privileges Committee.
This was done without the PPP MP, Edghill, being granted the opportunity to render an explanation in defence. (Kristen Macklingam)