[www.inewsguyana.com] – As the Government continues to be on the receiving end of sharp criticism over a move to pass three Bills through the National Assembly in one sitting, Governance Minister Raphael Trotman is defending the government’s actions.
Parliament meets today December 17, where three Bills are going to be read for the first time.These Bills 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.
A Ministry of the Presidency release on Thursday, noted Trotman, a former Speaker of the National Assembly, as saying that the Government is acting within the Standing Orders and the Constitution to take several Bills through all three stages of debate at one sitting in the National Assembly.
In the release, he noted that the three Bills, which are expected to be taken through the three stages on Thursday, are critical to good governance and the strengthening of democracy and as such, they cannot and should not be delayed, when the law provides for it to be done in such a manner.
He pointed out that “Erskine May on Parliamentary Practice (24ed) expressly states that except in cases of urgent and pressing necessity, no motion may be made to dispense with any sessional or Standing Order of the House, without due notice. However, Standing Orders are frequently suspended, if good cause is shown, to permit bills – more especially bills brought from the other House at a late period of the session to proceed without the usual intervals and notices.”
It was also stated that these Bills are expected to ensure that citizens participate in the long awaited Local Government Elections (LGE), while guaranteeing Guyana’s international standing in the global fight against criminality, money laundering and terrorism.
“The timely passage of these Bills, before the end of 2015, is a national imperative and the Government expects to receive the full support of the Opposition in the debate and passage of the Bills,” he said.
The Minister said that it is universally accepted that the demands of a situation allow a Government to take a Bill through all three stages of debate at one sitting, and this has been the recognised practice in the pre and post-Independence era. It is a long and accepted practice in the Westminster Parliamentary System that Government business must take priority, and that from time to time, the Standing Orders and Rules are amended or suspended to allow for this to happen,” the Governance Minister said.
Minister Trotman noted that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is being hypocritical and mischievous in its claims that Government is subverting the parliamentary process in taking the Bills through the stages of debate at one sitting. He noted that all Governments, and especially the PPP have utilised this option; often times with the support of the then Opposition.
“In January and March of 2007 respectively, the then PPP government utilised the permissible Standing Orders to take several Bills through all stages of debate on a single occasion. Bills addressing the movement and migration of persons for Cricket World Cup 2007, and the deployment of disciplined forces on a CARICOM mission, were approved in one day, and after very short notice,” he reminded.