Infrequent sittings of National Assembly stifling democratic process- Jagdeo

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The Parliamentary Opposition is decrying the infrequency of parliamentary sittings, noting that in any functioning democracy the National Assembly would meet more often in order to address matters of national importance.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo made this observation during his press conference on Thursday, when he responded to questions as to what action the Opposition is taking in matters it has criticised the government about.

Jagdeo noted the difficulties of them getting the chance to confront Government in the house.

“The Parliament, you know in another country, in a country where you have a thriving democracy, there are so many issues that you have, like a weekly Parliament. Here we have one that like every two months we wait for a sitting and by the time you go through formalities and Nagamootoo needing to go home to rest, then we only have three four hours and then the Government will say, oh we need to bring some emergency, let’s pass it. Forget all of those issues. It gets deferred again,” he said.

Moreover, the Opposition Leader referenced instances where the wait for problematic and controversial issues to be heard took months to even make it on to the agenda.

“That is what Parliament has become. We can’t even get our issues debated there so when you have to wait two, three months to even get something on the agenda of the Parliament, and then another six months to have it resolved, or debated, it defeats the whole argument about a functioning Parliament,” Jagdeo asserted.

The National Assembly last met on May 11.

At that sitting, the agenda involved supplementary financing sought by several Ministries for various expenses.

Before that, the assembly met on April 26.

It is unclear when the next sitting of the house has been scheduled for.

Since 2015, the average sittings of the Eleventh parliament have fluctuated from three times a month to just once a month.

In fact, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland in 2016 had expounded his belief that the Parliament, inclusive of the many committees – standing and select – can do much more in furthering the welfare of the people of this country if they were to meet more often to deal with the numerous items of business on the agenda.

In bemoaning the infrequency of Parliament, the Speaker said: “I think there is more work that can be done, even at a glance I could see at least two days (per week).”

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