No-confidence motion could languish on the Assembly’s agenda for one year

Minister Raphael Trotman

– House Speaker Raphael Trotman

THE Alliance For Change-sponsored no-confidence motion “could languish” on the National Assembly’s agenda for as much as a year, Speaker of the House, Mr. Raphael Trotman, told the media during a press briefing at Public Buildings yesterday.

He explained that this could be one of the possibilities regarding the outcome of the motion, and added that this course of action has been taken in other jurisdictions dealing with similar matters.

“This issue has created much national and international attention,” he conceded.

The Speaker of the House made it clear that the Standing Orders which guide the proceedings of the House clearly spell out the procedures that ought to be followed for consideration of the motion.

He added that the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and counterparts in the Caribbean have been put on alert that Guyana may request support with the interpretation and application relative to the motion.

He said the “unprecedented” no-confidence motion against the current administration will be placed on the Assembly’s agenda, and after the required number of days’ notice, it would qualify to come up for debate.

“The mover of the motion would have to indicate if and when he would like to proceed with the debate,” Trotman said, even as he explained that the mover of the motion could either ask for a debate and a subsequent vote on the motion, or could request that the motion be deferred for consideration at a later date.

The first inkling the public had that the AFC planned moving a no-confidence motion against the Government was back in mid-June, when party Vice-Chairman Mr. Moses Nagamootoo hinted at it.

He did so by way of an article published in the Stabroek News and headlined, “AFC considering no-confidence motion against Gov’t.” He, however, acknowledged that to do so would require the support of the Main Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

The AFC’s position was strengthened on Tuesday, August 5, when APNU Leader Brigadier (rtd.) David Granger publicly confirmed that his party was fully behind the no-confidence motion.

The first page of the Motion reads: “Be it resolved that this National Assembly has no confidence in the Government.” It was seconded by AFC Executive Member and Member of Parliament (MP) Mrs. Cathy Hughes.

As stated in Section 106 (6) of the Constitution: “The Cabinet and President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of the majority of all Members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”

This is made even clearer in Section 106 (7), which states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office, and shall hold an election within three months or such longer period as the National Assembly shall, by resolution supported by no less than two-thirds of all elected members of the National Assembly, (approve); and shall resign after a new President takes the oath of office following the election.”

The Speaker highlighted that there are a number of other critically important matters on the Assembly’s agenda, including the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill.
The second readings of the historic Education Bill and the Summary Jurisdiction (Appeals) (Amendment) Bill are also still to be done.

When the House resumes sessions, the Customs (Amendment) Bill is up for a second reading, having been re-tabled in the National Assembly after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ordered the Government of Guyana to repay to a Surinamese beverage company more than $1.2B (US$6M) for charging environmental tax on its imports of beverages into Guyana.

The CCJ ruling followed rejection of the Customs (Amendment) Bill by the combined Opposition, which voted it down in 2013.

Another important bill is the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill, which is up for a first reading, after being deferred several times. There are also several other important bills.

Several questions for oral and written reply are also on the agenda, the most controversial issue being on the benefits for former President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.

In addition to the foregoing, the House Speaker acknowledged that MPs would bring other motions, bills and petitions for consideration of the House.

“The Parliament Office is ready and rearing to resume and complete the business of the Assembly, which has a full agenda of critical issues,” Trotman assured.

The last Parliamentary sitting was on July 10, and the next date for a sitting has not yet been set.

(By Vanessa Narine)