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—-says govt showing disregard for standing orders
The A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), on Thursday night, condemned the attempts by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government to seize the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), warning that such an act would further dismantle the guardrails of the country’s democracy.
For more than a month, the five (5) Government Members of Parliament sitting on the Committee have been actively trying to remove Opposition Member of Parliament David Patterson from the chairmanship. Though their attempts by way of a motion have thus far failed, the PPP/C MPs led by Government Chief Whip Gail Teixeira are now exploring the possibility of replacing MP Patterson with a Government MP and not an Opposition MP.
This, the APNU+AFC said, is in breach of the Standing Orders.
“In this most recent instance, they seek to erode the meaning and spirit of Standing Order (SO) 82 (2) which grants the main Opposition in the National Assembly the right and power to select the Chairman of that Committee,” the coalition said.
It added: “There is a significant history and an important purpose why this entitlement belongs to the main Opposition. Scrutiny of spendings and of all other financial matters demands impartiality; and, a Chairman from the Opposition appointed exclusively by the main Opposition is fundamental for such impartiality.”
APNU+AFC said it is reprehensible that the PPP/C is attempting to erode the entrenched norm, by demanding the removal of MP Patterson, who was duly appointed. “The APNU+AFC maintains that the lawful selector of the Chairman of PAC is the main Opposition,” it said.
It added: “The law and practice on this matter is certainly not who the Government finds unfit and improper, but who the main Opposition finds fit and proper. Otherwise, the Government by such a device of a no-confidence motion can become the final selector of the PAC’s Chair, thereby completely eroding the intent and purpose of SO 82(2). Just like Bishop Edghill and his team is seeking to do David Patterson, they can easily do so to Ms Fernandes, Mr Figuero, and Mr. Mahipaul.”
It reminded that in the last Parliament, the APNU+AFC Government respected the Opposition’s PPP appointee, Irfaan Ali, who was allowed to chair the committee, despite being charged with multiple offences. This the coalition said was out of respect for the sanctity of the tradition that was enshrined in the Standing Orders and the non-violability of SO 82 (2).
“This longstanding standard should be reciprocated and borne out in this Parliament. Finally, this attempt at Mr Patterson’s removal is what is stymieing the work of the PAC presently. It is absolutely not his absence, or inaction or stalling. Hence, there is no need to even give SO 95 any attention as the Government team is seeking to do, muchless any weird amendment to any of the Standing Orders,” the coalition said.