[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is not too happy with being given short notice of what will take place on the December 17 sitting of the National Assembly.
A press statement from the office of the Opposition Leader on December 15 noted that after 13:00 hrs on Tuesday, PPP Parliamentarians received copies of Bills slated for first reading on the Order Paper for the December 17, 2015 sitting.
According to the statement, the package also contained a motion to be moved by the Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo suspending the Standing Orders to allow for all three Bills to go through all three stages during the sitting. The motion had received the leave of the Speaker.
The three Bills listed in the motion are the Municipal and District Councils and Local Authorities (Amendment) Bill No. 14 of 2015, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill No. 15 of 2015 and the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill No.16 of 2015.
According to the PPP, “none of these Bills were seen before this afternoon and although they were dated as being gazetted on December 9th and 10th, none has been posted on the Official Gazette Guyana website nor on the Parliament of Guyana website.”
“This is a flagrant violation of parliamentary democracy which is premised on, this the highest law making body, being able to scrutinise and examine legislation as well as to provide ample time for the public to know what business is before the National Assembly and to be able to be informed and to exercise the freedom to express their views on these matters before the House,” the statement noted.
The statement further noted, “In particular, a cursory glance of these Bills is revealing- the first Bill, Bill No. 14 with regards to Local Government Elections (LGE) increases the number of signatures required to support a political party list under Proportional Representation. These amendments essentially make it extremely onerous or may even deny smaller parties from participating in the LGE. These amendments are undemocratic and must be opposed by all.”
“The second Bill, Bill No. 15 has also not been made public and therefore has not been given adequate time for scrutiny by Members of Parliament nor the public and civil society. One has to ask why the rush on this new AMLCFT (Amendment) Bill when the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs has denied that Guyana is not compliant with FATF? Why isn’t there the same urgency to set up the AMLCFT Authority and the FIU as provided for in the government’s AMLCFT Amendment Act 2015.”
“The third Bill, Bill No, 16 is a brand new 98 page bill which again no one has seen. Due to the nature of the bill, developments in other countries on terrorism and concerns with human rights here in Guyana, this Bill should be properly and publicly scrutinised in a Parliamentary Special Select Committee.”
According to the PPP, this move by the government to deny scrutiny and to rush through these Bills further exposes the new administration for its undemocratic actions.