Gamble with the Local Government Bills continues in the National Assembly
The empty seats usually occupied by the Minister of Local Government, Ganga Persaud and the Minister within the Ministry of Local Government, Norman Whittaker, left no mistake about the intentions of the Government – they were not prepared to proceed with the four pieces of legislation for Local Government reforms that would bring about Local Government elections which have been delayed by a decade and a half.
The Government had moved to cancel today’s sitting to August 7th, by way of a letter to the Speaker, Raphael Trotman, but the Speaker said that the Government could not move the adjournment of the House by way of letter, but must be in the House to make such an adjournment.
And so today’s sitting was called and the gamble with the Local Government Bills continued. The Government brought its argument why it wanted the day’s sitting cancelled – it wanted time to reach consensus with the opposition on two legislative instruments that would pave the way for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.
Last week, the opposition voted that it wanted the Local Government Bills considered first. The Government played hard ball, and remained silent and so the Bills were not carried. Once that was done it was time for the Amaila Falls Legislation and the opposition returned the favour, remaining silent.
The top business on the agenda today was the Local Government Bills, but the Government still played hardball; since it did not get to cancel the sitting it decided to abandon all of its business for the day.
The opposition did not buy into the Government’s arguments that time was needed to reach agreement on the Amaila Falls matters so it can get a favourable vote from both sides of the House when it is returned.
Government Chief Whip, Gail Gail Teixeira argued that it was the prerogative of the Government to decide on the sittings of the National Assembly, though she could not quote any Standing Order of the house which agrees with her point, the Speaker too, did not agree with her.
The motion to cancel today’s sitting was moved, but the opposition’s 32 members defeated the Government’s 27 members who were in the House.
The Speaker had some words of advice for Members on both sides of the House.