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Government, opposition trade words over a motion to amend constitution – 15th Feb 2013

shot0011Constant heckling by both sides of the House had forced the premature ending of yesterday’s sitting of the National Assembly. Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman, voiced his disapproval over the conduct of the members of Parliament. At the time of the disruptions, the House was debating the amendment to the Fiscal management and Accountability Act which saw Junior Finance Minister Bishop Juan Edghill on the floor.

The motion which is being piloted by former Finance Minister, Carl Greenidge, is aimed at enhancing the functioning of several service commissions and entities by making these offices independent.

In his presentation Greenidge told the House that it was an oversight of the members of the Constitution Reform Commission that they did not allow in the schedule, several of the commissions and entities that he was now trying to include.

He said that as members of the National Assembly the onus is on the House to correct the perceived wrong that was done.

Also supporting the Bill was Leader of the Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan.

Ramjattan said that such an amendment is critical, in order for the constitution to fulfill its organic role of protecting the rights and privileges of the Guyanese People.

Meanwhile, in leading off the Government’s position on the Bill, MP Bibi Shadick told the House that Government was not ready to support any such Bill.

She said if what the opposition is calling for to be amended was not objected to by the learned members of the constitution reform Commission, then she does not see why the opposition was pushing a non-issue.

If the Bill is amended and passed, the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Judicial Service, the Public Service, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Guyana Elections Commission and others, will be made constitutional bodies and will not have to be subjected to the Ministry of Finance’s approval of their individual budgets.

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