Parliamentary democracy ‘collateral damage’ in government efforts to overturn no-confidence vote -Jagdeo
Parliamentary democracy in Guyana has been collateral damage in the government’s recourse to the courts to stave off the effects of the censure motion passed against the administration led by David Granger on December 21 of last year,
This is what opposition leader Bharat Jagdeo said at a press conference last week. “Now you have a parliament that is not functioning… because they have decided to drag the whole question of the censure motion and the holding of elections. Abuse it, and govern by decree essentially. So now you have almost a year now… when Parliament hasn’t worked, and it’s in a parliamentary democracy where it’s an equal branch of government, ”Jagdeo said.
October 21, 2019 was ten months since the vote of no confidence was passed and during this period, the Parliament’s website shows that only four sittings have taken place. These sessions were held on January 3, 2019, April 26, 2019, May 15, 2019 and May 23, 2019.
Meanwhile, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs told Stabroek News that all MPs (MPs) have been receiving their salaries and other benefits every month since December 2018.
It is also not certain whether and how often the various parliamentary committees have met.
Stabroek News contacted Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Irfaan Ali – now the PPP presidential candidate – and he said he could not recall whether the committee had met for the year. The functions of the PAC include reviewing the audited accounts of public bodies presented in the Auditor General’s report and exercising general oversight of the functioning of the Auditor General.
In the absence of PAC meetings, the audited accounts of state agencies are not subject to review beyond what has already been reported in the Auditor General’s report.
Odinga Lumumba of PPP / C, former chairman of the parliamentary sectoral committee on natural resources, when asked if the committee had met since the vote of no confidence on December 21, said: “We cannot meet. because there is no Parliament. “
Lumumba is no longer a Member of Parliament because he resigned due to his dual nationality status. An attempt was made to contact Joseph Harmon, director general of the Ministry of the Presidency, to check if any meetings have taken place since Lumumba’s resignation, but these attempts have been unsuccessful.
The Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources is considered doubly important at this time given the developments in the oil sector, notably the fact that first oil production in Guyana is now expected in December.
Stabroek News was unable to reach the chairman of the parliamentary committee on constitutional reform, Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams, on whether his committee has met for the year. However, Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Anil Nandlall, when contacted, said the committee had not met. In fact, as previously shared by opposition and government MPs, Nandlall said the committee had barely met since 2015, due to what he said was a failure on the part of members. government committee to attend meetings.
Dominic Gaskin, who also resigned his post as APNU + AFC parliamentarian because of his
dual nationality, had accused the opposition of having hampered the work of the committee due to its lack of participation. However, Nandlall said last week that since the required quorum is three, members of the government could have proceeded and made progress if they were present at the meetings.
Stabroek News was also unable to establish contact with George Norton of UNPA + AFC, chairman of the parliamentary nominations committee. However, this newspaper was able to contact PPP / C’s Gail Teixeira, who was also on the committee, and she said that, as far as she can remember, the committee has met once since the no-confidence vote. Teixeira also resigned from his post as PPP / C parliamentarian due to his dual nationality status.
She noted that Norton, in January 2019, tried to call several more meetings but failed because he could not get a quorum on the government side. Members of the opposition, she explained, had made the decision not to attend the meetings, but added that the meetings could still have taken place if members of the government had attended.
Stabroek News also tried to contact the chairmen of several other parliamentary committees, but to no avail.