[www.inewsguyana.com] – Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman has ruled against Alliance for Change Members, Cathy Hughes and Khemraj Ramjattan appearing before the Privileges Committee.
In response to his ruling, Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira said it is not surprising and demonstrates the Speaker’s “lack of objectivity.”
Teixeira had written to the Speaker citing reasons why Hughes and Ramjattan should be placed before the Privileges Committee.
In the letter to the Speaker, details of Parliamentary Procedures and standing order 107 were stated, which says: “A Member of Parliament is not allowed to appear before the Assembly or any Committee thereof as counsellor or solicitor for any party or in any capacity for which he or she is to receive a fee or reward”.
During a press briefing at Office of the President last evening, Teixeira said, in the case of Ramjattan, it was noted that one of the bidders for the Specialty Hospital was his client, and when the bidding process was ongoing he voted for the project in the National Assembly.
Teixeira in her letter to the Speaker pointed out that after Ramjattan’s client lost out in the bidding process, he voted against the project in 2013, and again during the consideration of the estimates for the 2014 National Budget.
“At no point did Ramjattan do what he should have done, which is to declare his pecuniary interest in the matter before the House.”
Without even calling a meeting with the MPs, Teixeira who is also the Government’s Chief Whip said the Speaker issued his ruling stating that no prima facie case has been made out against Ramjattan.
While in his ruling the Speaker acknowledged Standing Order 107, he stated that the matter “is old” and therefore should not be considered.
The Speaker also ruled that a prima facie case has not been made out against Hughes, and while standing order 107 was acknowledged in Ramjattan’s case it was not acknowledged in Hughes’ case.
Teixeira in her letter pointed out to the Speaker that Hughes was handling the Public Relations for Sithe Global, and at no point did she publically declare her position that she was benefiting from such arrangement and her voting pattern in relation to the Amalia Falls project.
“The issue, whether the public knew or whether the newspaper covered it, the Member of Parliament has to be honourable and get up and say I have an interest and declare it in the House.”
According to the Presidential Advisor, again the Speaker pointed out that this issue occurred a while ago. Teixeira said there is no time frame for which one can raise an issue to the Speaker hence there is no basis for the Speaker’s ruling as it relates to both issues being ‘old’.
“I am not surprised by the ruling. These are his party members and I’ve said and I quote, ‘The mouth is muzzled by the hand that feeds it’. The Speaker is for the opposition, at no point do I believe that we will be given such an opportunity to bring matters.”
The Presidential Advisor added that when she penned the letter she strongly believed, and she still believes that there was a case that could be made out that an MP had not been honourable.
“Going to the Privileges Committee is obviously to make complaints to deal with a person’s ethics, and whether one brings the parliament into disrepute or one violates the norms, he has commented and I’m totally unimpressed.”
In response to a question about the Speaker asking for evidence in the matter of both Ramjattan and Hughes, the Government’s Chief Whip said that according to parliamentary procedures, she nor anyone else, when indicating a desire to have someone appear before the privileges committee is not required to give support evidence or document.
Teixeira pointed out that when the A Partnership For National Unity’s (APNU) Member Carl Greenidge moved his motion against Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh for the restoration of money cut from the National budget he did not provide evidence or documents to support why Dr. Singh should be called before the Privileges Committee.
“I will say we are absolutely shocked and disappointed at the lack of impartiality. We all know how he got where he got too, so he has to be a good Speaker.”
[Extracted and modified from GINA]