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Hearing date determined by Govt, not Speaker – National Assembly Clerk

first_imgNo-confidence motion…“no chance before Budget” – GovtDespite calls by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for its No-Confidence Motion to be treated with urgency in the National Assembly before the presentation of the 2019 Budget, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs on Wednesday said the Standing Orders of Guyana’s Parliament are “silent on the requirements of a no-confidence motion”. He nevertheless informed that he conducted extensive research on the matter, referencing Standing Order No 113 of Guyana’s Parliament which notes that matters which are not provided for can rely to practice of the Commons Assembly of the Parliament of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – which form part of the United Kingdom (UK) – which ruled Guyana as the colonial power up to May 1966.It was outlined that practices in Britain and Ireland’s Parliaments may be applicable to Guyana’s Assembly once these are not inconsistent with Guyana’s Standing Orders or practices in the National Assembly. Isaacs cited a section of the Parliamentary Practice in the Commons Assembly of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by writer Thomas Erskine May.It was noted, among other things, that “By established convention, the Government always accedes to the demand of the Leader of the Opposition to allot a day for the discussion of a motion tabled by the official Opposition which in the Government’s view would have the effect of testing the confidence in the House.” More than that, it was outlined that “Government it entitled to have regard to exigencies of its own business”.The Clerk recalled that when a no-confidence motion was brought against the former Government in 2014, it was published on Notice Paper and dealt with as other Private Members’ motions “that requires notice.” He added that it was placed on the Order Paper 12 days from when it was published in the Notice Paper.“In my view, the day for the hearing of a no-confidence motion is determined by the Government of Guyana and not by the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana,” Isaacs observed.While Isaacs clarified Speaker’s role in the hearing of the motion, the Opposition contended its fear that Government could perhaps have the Speaker, Dr Scotland schedule the motion to be heard some time after the budget.No chanceWhen approached for comment on Wednesday evening, Vice President Carl Greenidge who is as senior Minister within Cabinet, made it clear that the motion which was submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, will not be heard before the next scheduled sitting of the National Assembly.“Will it be heard before Monday? Of course not; the Government’s business takes priority over an issue like that because we’ve started on the budget process and therefore it will have to wait,” the Foreign Affairs Minister declared.There was some degree of speculation that one or two members could deflect whenever the matter will be voted upon but Minister Greenidge expressed full confidence that the Government will solidly defeat the Opposition’s motion.“The Opposition thinks they’ve done well in Local Government Elections to try and change the story; it has nothing to do with realistic opportunities. It has no merit whatsoever and it has no chance of doing anything,” Greenidge said.Government is unmoved by the request which was confirmed by Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge on Wednesday. At the same time, Clerk of National Assembly Sherlock Issacs disclosed that the motion’s hearing has to be determined by Government, as opposed to House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland. This suggested that it is the coalition Government that will decide when the members of the House will debate and vote on the motion against its Administration.The Government’s posture on the matter comes in great disparity to the PPP/C’s position that the matter should be heard before Monday’s sitting. Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira speaking recently to Guyana Times was adamant that hearing the No-Confidence Motion before the Budget presentation was a matter of ethics.The Opposition Leader, in whose name the motion was filed, had also made it clear that the Party wants its motion debated before November 26 Budget reading. He said that was already scheduled to be private members day, where their matters take precedence. However, the reading of the National Budget has taken over that day; with the result that another private member’s day must be scheduled.He had outlined that the convention is that once a no-confidence motion is filed, it takes precedence over other issues. Apart from the UK example, the Clerk cited, Jagdeo pointed to standard practice in democracies where no-confidence motions are given priority as in the case of Sri Lanka, where multiple no confidence votes have been held against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.When Jagdeo had first announced the no-confidence motion he observed the “devastating losses” in the local Government Elections (LGE) for the coalition Government. In a surprise move, the next day, the scheduled sitting of the National Assembly was cancelled at Government’s request and the Opposition turned up to an empty chamber.Among the grounds the former President outlined for his motion included the thousands of jobs that have been lost as a result of the closure of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) estates. He also identified various scandals that have erupted under the Administration including the single sourcing of the feasibility contract for the new Demerara River crossing, the single sourcing of a drugs bond and the single sourcing of drug procurement contracts.The Party noted the numerous breaches of fiscal laws flagged by the Audit Office of Guyana in its reports, as well as the lack of accountability in the D’Urban Park project; something even the Auditor General had to launch a special probe into. The PPP also cited that tax collection has increased dramatically. <<<<>>>had reported findings from the recently released 2017 Auditor General report, which had showed that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) collected more taxes than was anticipated.In the End of Year Budget and Reconciliation Report, it noted that the projected revenue for 2017 was $186 billion. Instead, Government actually collected $195 billion in current revenue. This includes duties, levy, personal income and withholding taxes.Since taking office, Government has opted to enter into out-of-court settlements. These settlements included sums to the tune of US$5.7 million; $226 million and $3.8 billion. The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change entered office in May 2015.last_img read more