Parliament not functioning as it should – Jagdeo

first_img… Says inconsistent sittings impair scrutiny of GovtThe parliamentary Opposition is decrying the infrequency of parliamentary sittings in Guyana, noting that in any functioning democracy, the National Assembly would meet more often in order to address matters of national importance.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo made this observation during his press conference on Thursday. At the time, he was asked about what action the Opposition is taking in matters it has consistently criticised the Government about. Jagdeo noted the difficulties of the Opposition getting the chance to confront Government in the House.“In another country, in a country where you have a thriving democracy, there are so many issues that you have a weekly Parliament,” Jagdeo posited. “Here, we have one that for every two months we wait for a sitting. And by the time you go through formalities and (Prime Minister Moses) Nagamootoo needing to go home to rest, we only have three four hours.”Opposition and Government parliamentarians at the last sitting of the National AssemblyThe Opposition Leader referred to instances when the Opposition has had to wait for months for something to be heard on the agenda. And indeed there have been some People’s Progressive Party-sponsored motions, such as the one calling for the revocation of Value Added Tax on private education, that have languished for extended periods.“And then the Government will say, ‘Oh, we need to bring something emergency, let’s pass it. Forget all those issues. It gets deferred again. So that is what Parliament has become. We can’t even get our issues debated. So when you have to wait two, three months to get something on the agenda, it defeats the whole argument about a functioning Parliament,” Jagdeo lamented.The National Assembly last met on May 11, 2018, when supplementary financing was sought by several ministries for various expenses. For instance, $788 million in sums being sought by the Foreign Affairs Ministry in supplemental finances to defend Guyana’s border case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was put under the microscope. In addition, $484.2 million sought for the Guyana Defence Force to acquire four aircraft manufactured in the 1970s was also scrutinised. Before that, the Assembly met on April 26. It is unclear when the next sitting of the House has been scheduled for.Eleventh ParliamentThe Eleventh Parliament has been a tumultuous one, due particularly to events last year. There have been strange occurrences ranging from singing attendees to a mystery female dressed as Santa Claus invading the hallowed chambers.Things reached a point when the Police were even called in on the Opposition Parliamentarians. That incident occurred on December 11, when Opposition Member of Parliament Juan Edghill’s attempts to extend his scrutiny of the Ministry of the Presidency’s budget estimates were met by the Speaker’s protestations and suspension of the sitting.An all-male police team subsequently arrived and attempted to remove Edghill, but were blocked by his colleagues, who formed a human ring around the parliamentarian. A scuffle had then ensued, with parliamentarians claiming they were assaulted.During a late night press conference after the dramatic events, the Speaker denied that he had called the Police or ordered the media out of the Parliament chambers. He claimed that he merely questioned the continued presence of media operatives after the sitting was suspended.He had also said there is no need for an investigation, since it is simply a matter of respecting the rules of the House. However, exactly who instructed the Police to enter the Parliament chambers remains a mystery to this day.last_img read more