Opposition’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira today slammed the APNU/AFC Government over what she referred to as the “untenable decision by the government” to have “few and far between” sittings of the National Assembly.
In a statement issued moments ago, she lashed back at Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo on the explanation the Administration has provided in relation to the 56 day gap before the next parliamentary sitting on May 4, 2016.
Here is the full Statement issued by Teixeira today:
It is with some amusement that l read the statement by the Leader of the House, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, published on Sunday March 13, 2016. This was a hurried response to the outcry from the PPP/C Members of Parliament and other bodies with regard to a 56 day gap before the next parliamentary sitting on May 4, 2016.
The practice in this the 11th Parliament of some discussion between the government and the opposition with regards to the date for a parliamentary sitting has been largely dispensed with. Therefore on March 10th it came as a surprise to the opposition members that the government would not hold a sitting for the next 56 days.
The Leader of the House’s statement tries to justify this untenable decision by the government.
Let us examine each of these justifications presented by the Leader of the House for such as decision:-
- i) Parliamentary training programmes.
In fact, there are 2 parliamentary programmes scheduled for March 31 to April 1st 2016 and another from April 4-8th, 2016. Neither of which will interfere with a sitting.
- ii) The Speaker and nine members of the Parliament Office will be travelling on an official visit to the UK House of Commons.
This trip is scheduled for April 16-22, 2016. Again this does not justify why there could not be a sitting before the April 16th or after April 23, 2016?
iii) And the Opposition failed to name a Deputy Speaker so they can be no sitting.
With regard to the latter issue, the Leader of the House seems to be unaware of the Standing Orders 4 (1) which allows in the absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker for the election of a Speaker by the Assembly for that sitting and “shall preside at each sitting of the Assembly and shall act as Chairperson of the Committees of the Whole of the Assembly, including the Committee of Supply”. The only condition is that it cannot be a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary. In fact this Standing Order was invoked in the 9th Parliament when both Speaker Ramkarran and Deputy Speaker Riehl were both unavailable.
This is the second time in this 11th Parliament of less than a year that the Government seems to be unenthusiastic about having sittings. The public needs to be reminded that there was no sitting from October 22, 2015 December 17th, 2015…almost two (2) months.
What the Leader of the House failed to disclose is the hectic overseas travel schedule of Members of the government in this upcoming period which would compromise their fragile “one (1) seat majority.”
Knowing their vulnerability, the PPP/C will not be surprised if this trend of few and far between sittings continues.
The spurious justification by the government to link these gaps between parliamentary sittings with the November 2014 prorogation is not only totally irrelevant to the 11thParliament but duplicitous.
The fact is that the Government has such a thin, sparse and unimaginative parliamentary agenda that one would not be incorrect to deduce that it seems to only regard the National Assembly of any use when it comes to passing the annual budgets.
The last sitting on March 10, 2016 was a colossal waste of money lasting only one hour! There was nothing on the agenda that was urgent. Nor did the government use the opportunity of that sitting to table any new bills, motions or even the COI report on the death of Dr. Walter Rodney.
The Leader of the House and the government should be embarrassed with their parliamentary agenda or lack thereof in the 11th Parliament.