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The presentation of the 2021 national budget, the ensuing parliamentary debates, the consideration of the budget estimates in the Committee of Supply and the passing of the budget are all completed. Some of the events surrounding the foregoing however, have left a sour taste in the mouth.
Not least among these are the following:
- The listening and viewing public were left aghast with the conduct of some of our parliamentarians. What is more Editor, is that this year, many of our school children are at home due to the covid-19 pandemic and so they had ample opportunity to see and/hear our elected representatives on show; thanks to the expanded reach of radio, television and social media.
- The frequency with which the Speaker of the National Assembly had to intervene to disallow appeals/requests for a point of order to be heard and to chide parliamentarians for not following parliamentary procedures is astounding. This begs the question whether there exists a structured Induction Programme for newly- minted parliamentarians and on-going training programmes for all parliamentarians.
- The personal attacks dished out by parliamentarians against one another leaves much to be desired. This is simply unflattering. Our elected representatives must be exemplars of comportment and decorum, and they must resist the temptations to descend to the gutter politics of tit-for-tat, buse-out and cuss-out. Our great country most certainly deserves far better.
- Too many parliamentarians read their presentations, and some even had difficulty doing so.
- The conduct of some parliamentarians also calls into question the role of the Chief Whips to maintain the discipline of their fellow parliamentarians.
Some pundits conclude that Guyana is a fledgling democracy. It follows therefore that democracy in Guyana has a far way to go. May the functioning of our parliament play its role in our quest to move our democracy forward.
Bernel L.H. Wickham.