Cabinet endorses Speaker’s ruling on Motion of Privilege

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QUOTE:“Cabinet fully endorsed the ruling of the Speaker on the motion of privilege by the governing PPP/C MPs with regard to the public anti-security forces remarks by the Opposition PNCR MP and Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Mrs. Backer.” – Dr. Luncheon

CABINET has endorsed the ruling of Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran on the motion of privilege by the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Members of Parliament (MPs) with regards to the public anti-security forces remarks by the Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) MP Deborah Backer.

This is according to Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) Dr. Roger Luncheon yesterday at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.

“Cabinet fully endorsed the ruling of the Speaker on the motion of privilege by the governing PPP/C MPs with regard to the public anti-security forces remarks by the Opposition PNCR MP and Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Mrs. Backer,” Dr. Luncheon stated.

Backer has since been referred to a Committee of Privileges to be disciplined for offensive remarks she made against the army at the October 15 sitting of the National Assembly.

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh told the House that Backer, in her presentation on the motion of the deployment of Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Personnel to Trinidad for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting suggested that the soldiers are going there to torture people.

He said Backer’s statements cast aspersions on the hard working men and women of armed forces who serve their country as well as the region when called upon.

Singh contended that the PNCR member’s unfortunate remarks must be harshly condemned and called on Members of the House to unanimously signal their disapproval of her offensive uttering.

The minister said Prime Minister Samuel Hinds has written to the Speaker of the House on the matter.

The Speaker acknowledged receipt of the Prime Minister’s letter but said he was unable to forward the correspondence to Backer because he received it late in the morning.

Ramkarran said he has examined the issue and found that a prima facie has been made and has referred it to the Committee of Privileges which takes disciplinary action.

The PNCR last Thursday boycotted the sitting of the National Assembly and Ramkarran informed the House that the Parliamentarian in question nor her colleagues provided him a reason for their absence.

Some 90 ranks including members of the Guyana Police Force will join their CARICOM counterparts in providing security support to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting scheduled for November.

Also, he stated that Cabinet approved the tabling of the private security services legislation when it met last Tuesday to be tabled by Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee seeking to regulate the industry by introducing the registration of the companies, inspection and standard setting.

He said the role of the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs is outlined in the bill with regards to their overview of that sector.

Additionally, amendments to social security legislation which were approved by Cabinet will also be tabled.

Cabinet noted, too, the many Select Committees that continue to examine bills sent for further consideration including the Children Bill, the Sexual Offences Bill, the Allied Health Professional Bill and the Local Government Bill.

“Today, in parliament, the Maritime Zone Legislation would be debated for its second reading,” he told reporters, in reference to yesterday’s sitting.

A few weeks ago, at his weekly post-Cabinet briefing, he stated that Cabinet considered and adapted its programme of legislative enactments to be presented during the new session which began earlier this month.

The Cabinet Secretary noted that emphasis will be on furthering the reforms in the financial sector which would see the tabling of Electronic Transaction Bill intended to lay the ground work and establish the range of orthodoxies in using the internet to contact both government and private business, as it is being done with personal business and communication.

Additionally, the New Building Society (NBS) Amendment Act to bring the NBS under greater supervision by the Bank of Guyana; and the Credit Bureau Credit Reporting Bill by which credit-granting bodies and firms in the financial sector and those who receive credit, will have legal and legitimate ways of identifying and providing shared information about credit behaviour.

Others include the Business Names Registration Amendment Bill; the Companies’ Amendment Bills and Regulations; the Deeds Registry Amendment Bill; the Official Gazette Bill, which are all intended to lay the statutory framework for electronic filing, electric transactions in the registration and the incorporation of businesses in Guyana.

The Consumer Protection Bill is also expected to be laid in the National Assembly and, he pointed out that the justice sector is also highlighted in this legislative period with two important pieces of legislation – the Legal Practitioners’ Amendment Bill and the Juvenile Justice Bill.

In terms of national security and sovereignty, the Maritime Zone Bill seeks to replace the existing boundaries Act and to reflect Guyana’s gratification of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and also those considerations that arose from the Tribunal Award concluded recently.

Also on the priority list, according to the HPS; are the Access to Information Bill; the Broadcast Bill as well as other pieces of legislation that includes the Disability Bill; the Rice Factory Assessment Bill; and the Livestock Development Authority Bill.

“These bills on the priority list would be tabled and will join other bills that have already been tabled and that are being discussed at the level of the Select Committees in parliament,” he emphasised.

Luncheon said these include the Sex Offences Bill; the two children’s bill – Custody, Maintenance and Guardianship and Contact and Childcare and Development Services; the remaining Local Government Reform Bills; the Health Professionals Bill; and the Leader of the Opposition Benefit Bill.