GUYANA’S Private Sector Commission (PSC) has called for an end to the November 10 prorogation of Parliament, as well as the stay of the Alliance for Change (AFC) sponsored no-confidence motion.
The Commission’s call was made in a statement that was made public yesterday, in which several actions were detailed as necessary to move past the current political gridlock that is pushing Guyanese to early elections. The statement essentially includes three calls:
* An end to the prorogation and stay of the no-confidence motion;
* A one-month period of dialogue before any consideration is given to dissolution of Parliament and subsequent general elections; and
* An agreement that representatives of civil society will be allowed to observe the dialogue process in full once commenced during this period.
“There is still room for the life of the 10th Parliament to be preserved once the prorogation comes to an end and the no-confidence motion is stayed to make room for a meaningful attempt to dialogue on the important issues that will persist even after elections are held,” PSC Chairman Ramesh Persaud said.
President Donald Ramotar has always maintained that the need for dialogue was uppermost in his mind when he made his decision. Paving the way for greater dialogue among political parties, he contends, would have kept the 10th Parliament alive to address critically important issues currently before the National Assembly.
The effect of ending the first session of the 10th Parliament via prorogation is the termination of the business of the National Assembly.
As a result the AFC sponsored no-confidence motion was not considered. Also A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) had, prior to November 10, signalled its intent to support the push through of the motion.
Had it not been for the proclamation to prorogue Parliament, if the no-confidence motion was passed, Guyana would have been headed to early general elections within three months.
However, Mr. Ramotar has made it clear that if these efforts prove futile, there will be a move to early general elections.
Since the prorogation, APNU and the AFC have made it clear that they will not engage the President in talks unless the prorogation is lifted and Parliamentary work resumes. The rejection of talks was also formally communicated by APNU Leader, Brigadier (rtd) David Granger in a December 2 letter responding to the President’s November 18 invitation for talks.
The most recent contention of the current Administration, following these positions, is that the prorogation objectives have been lost.
LOOK AT ALTERNATIVES
“This is the time to look at alternatives,” the Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) said yesterday at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Wednesday.
He added that, “There can be little doubt that general elections are gaining currency as a reasonable and acceptable alternative to talks among parliamentary political parties.”
AGENDA FOR TALKS
All considered, the PSC Chairman noted that a proposed agenda for talks could address several issues, including:
* The composition and implementation of all outstanding commissions required by the Constitution;
* Agreement on a date for Local Government Elections some time before the life of the 10th Parliament comes to an end;
* Mechanism by which the bills not receiving assent can be resolved;
* Mechanism for approval of 2014 supplementary financial papers and statements of excess; and
* An inclusionary mechanism for budget talks of 2015 and 2016. This could be a meaningful start on forming a longer term agreement on Guyana’s Economic Development Agenda.
“We further request that our representatives of Civil Society be included as observers to any dialogue process agreed upon so that we could be kept meaningfully informed as to the agreements and commitments by all parties in pursuing the interests of those they represent and hold each accountable for the delivery of results,” Persaud stressed.
According to him, in line with the Article 13 of the Constitution, the principal objective of the political system of the state is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organizations in the management and decision-making processes of the state, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their wellbeing.
The PSC Chairman added that the mandate of the 10th Parliament, elected via free and fair general elections on November 28, 2011, should be accepted by all, since it is given by the Guyanese electorate.
“This (the mandate of the 10th Parliament) created an opportunity for the needs of both minority and majority stakeholders to be adequately represented and solutions negotiated for the benefit of all the citizens of Guyana. On the contrary, the opportunity is being squandered by standoffs and deadlocks to the detriment of all stakeholders,” the PSC Chairman said.
It was also noted that the Commission’s calls come after consultations with various civil society organizations such as representatives of Labour and Religion.
“Guyana our beloved country, a land with a people of diverse culture and bestowed with many natural resources, continues to encounter challenges in its path to development as the governance architecture is not effective in equitably meeting the needs of all stakeholders,” Persaud concluded.
The PSC’s proposal was sent to President Donald Ramotar, Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Granger and AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan.