Mr Scotland’s tenure as Speaker has been less than stellar

first_imgDear Editor,November 19, 2018 must be recorded as a day of national shame; as the Speaker of the National Assembly aided and abetted by his staff, circumvented the laws of Guyana; specifically Article 80B(1) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act which directs the House to deliver unaltered copies of constitutional agencies budget submissions to all Members of Parliament. Despite two weeks of preparation time available, the submissions were not available to MPs and indeed were not even in the process of being prepared; instead MPs were provided with a ‘summary’ that emanated from the Finance Ministry, this, Editor, suggests collusion to circumvent the law in no uncertain manner.Editor, this unlawful action was further compounded by the Speaker’s collusion with the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) MPs to reduce the time allocated for examination of these submissions from five hours to two hours. Scotland’s tenure as Speaker has been less than stellar so far, but he is now entering a new phase of behaviour that is far removed from normal, his partisanship is now causing him to act unlawfully to the detriment of the taxpaying citizen and must be curbed.Allow me to elaborate; the Speaker’s time-cut gave the Opposition MPs two hours to examine the budget submissions of 16 agencies, at 10 minutes per agency; a total of $11.446 billion with no direct submissions available to inform them properly, he allowed the Finance Minister to provide ‘block’ budgets (no line items) which are of little value. Minister Jordan then presented arbitrary cuts of those ‘block’ budgets in varying degrees of percentage points, no reasons were offered and no MP any the wiser as to what programmes or activity were affected. These arbitrary cuts by Minister Jordan effectively circumvent the laws granting autonomy to these constructional agencies, again aided by the Speaker; it was the Speaker again who failed the citizens when Minister Jordan refused to give answers to People’s Progressive Party (PPP) MPs, effectively rendering their fiduciary duty to examine submissions to a charade. Shame!Editor, Opposition MPs endured a five-hour recess and were faced with a choice of abandoning examination of these submissions altogether or accept hastily printed copies from which to ask pertinent questions. The logical course of action should have been provision of the copies with a minimum 24-hour period for preparation of questions, at which time the House could have been reassembled, given that the next meeting is Monday, November 26, there was ample time to make this feasible. It is my understanding that the PPP MPs suggested a rescheduling for Thursday, November 22, but this suggestion was ignored by the Speaker. Editor, taxpayers do expect work for our hard-earned dollars and examination of expenditure is very important to us.Editor, the Speaker is paid to represent the interests of Guyana’s citizens in the National Assembly, a fact that seems to be lost on Dr Scotland in his dealings with the current executive arm of Government; Dr Scotland’s handling of the No-Confidence Motion filed by the Leader of the Opposition contrasts sharply with that of his immediate predecessor Raphael Trotman, who despite coming to the Office of Speaker directly from the benches of the Opposition, endeavoured to perform his duties in an unbiased fashion. Speaker Trotman received a no-confidence motion, acknowledged same and proceeded to set a date for hearing, at no time was he accused by the then executive of behaving in a partisan manner by so doing, despite acknowledgement of receipt of the aforementioned motion, there has been no course of action set by Speaker Scotland. Worse yet is the allegation that the APNU leadership at a meeting with its MPs decided that it wants the motion debated on December 21 (strategically, this is to allow them to pass a “good” budget so as to get public sympathy) and indicated that it has directed the Speaker to name that date for its consideration, should this information prove to be accurate, this would be the worst form of collusion from a supposedly independent head of the Legislative branch of Government in our nation’s history. I can only hope Dr Scotland is not influenced by the possible threat to his job/position should the motion succeed; the calibre of person we select as Speaker is usually above such consideration; in Dr Scotland’s case, I await confirmation by action; the integrity of the Speaker’s office demands a demonstration of same.Respectfully,Robin Singhlast_img read more