– during special interactive session with media
Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland believes 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.
Dr Scotland made the scathing observation during a special session held with members of the local media corps, the Speaker and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.
The National Assembly, he reminded, is not full-time but rather only a part-time assembly, which essentially means that its members have other commitments.
Parliament meets traditionally once per week – on Thursdays, whenever it does meet.
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).”
Speaking directly to the meetings of the special and standing committees – the forums through which most parliamentary work is done – Dr Scotland expressed the view that they also should be meeting more often.
Ever since the resumption of the sittings of the National Assembly after its annual recess, there has been one session of the full House, while not one of the committees has met.
The Speaker did disclose that there have been preliminary conversations with stakeholders looking to have more regular meetings of the Assembly.
Dr Scotland did seek to point to some of the peculiarities of the Guyana Parliament, underscoring firstly “that our Parliament is a part-time Parliament” which, according to the Speaker, inherently comes with its own consequences.
“It doesn’t matter that you may have work that would take you four days a week, four or five days sometimes, because it’s a part-time Parliament.”
He said the simple fact that Guyana operated a part-time Parliament implied that its members have other matters to attend to, “when they are not in Parliament”.
According to Dr Scotland, it is within this context that one has to view the sittings of the National Assembly.
“Certainly, I can see the committees moving ahead rapidly with their exceptionally heavy workload that they all have,” she said.
He suggested that adding another day for parliamentary sittings could in fact be very beneficial in getting the job done. “…I think one day is not adequate.”
Pressed on his role as Speaker of the National Assembly in seeking to have more regular Committee meetings, Dr Scotland told media operatives “that is a matter which will have to be done, not only by the Speaker but discussed with the chairpersons of the committees too; you have to do that”.
Dr Scotland explained that “it’s not a case where the Speaker hands down decisions”.
“Anything you want in Parliament must have the cooperation of Members of Parliament… anything you want in Parliament affects and must involve the Parliament Office.”(Guyana Times)