Speaker decided against sending Ramjattan, Cathy Hughes to Privileges Committee
The PPP Chief Whip Gail Teixeira wanted AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan be taken to the Privileges Committee for failing to declare financial interests in matters which were before the National Assembly. She claimed that Mr Ramjattan voted against allocations for the Specialty Hospital because he was representing the Indian firm Fedders Lloyd, which had heavily protested the award of another Indian contractor, Surendra Engineering for the contract to build the Specialty Hospital.
A second complain made against MR Ramjattan was that he did not vote for funds to go to the Marriott Hotel project because AFC supporter Robert Badal owns the Pegasus Hotel and the Marriott would be in competition with his business.
In his ruling, the Speaker said that Mr Ramjattan could not be referred to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee because the complaint was being made quite some time after the fact. The Speaker said that if a year has elapsed a complaint is laid against a member, it lends itself to unwanted speculation as to the motives that influenced the decision to implement it.
The Speaker said that the Privileges Committee should not be seen as a place of convenience but one where serious issues are heard and determined. As far as the Speaker was concerned the matter was raised too late and the complaints against Mr Ramjattan could not be justified.
When it comes to the allegations made against Ms Hughes, the Speaker made similar arguments as to why he could not refer her to the Privileges Committee.
The complaint against Ms Hughes was that she should have disclosed financial interests she and her husband Nigel Hughes had in the Amaila Falls Hydro Project during debates on the project. Apart from other arguments he used, the Speaker noted that prior to the debates Ms Hughes had been known to appear on television broadcasts promoting the interests of the project, and further she did not participate in debates by speaking on the issue.
The application by Ms Teixeira for Parliamentarian Ramjattan and Hughes to be sent to the Privileges Committee followed the Speaker’s decision to send the Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh to the Privileges Committee on the complaint that he spent over $4.5 billion without the approval of the National Assembly.