Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Bill 20123116 10 Jan, 2013
Mr. Greenidge: I beg to move that the National Assembly, in accordance with Standing Order No. 52 (1), grant leave for the introduction and first reading of the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Bill 2012 – Bill No. 29/2012. It is intituled an Act to amend the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act of 2009.
Mr. Greenidge (replying): Mr. Speaker, may I start by referring you to resolution 22 of 2nd August, 2012? The resolution actually makes reference to three things: the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009, the Pensions and Special Benefits Act, Part III, and that is specifically mentioned to be revised by a Special Select Committee, and the Parliamentary and Holders of Special Offices Act to also be revised urgently. The resolution is quite clear. That is by way of explanation. I can read the resolution to you.
Mr. Speaker: Read the part that addresses the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009, please.
Mr. Greenidge: I was making a distinction among the three focuses. As regards the resolution itself, it states:
“AND WHEREAS the provisions of the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act 2009 has caused concern and resulted in adverse reaction among sections of the citizens of Guyana, in particular as to the ability of the country to sustain the benefits set out therein,
That this National Assembly immediately takes steps to have the aforementioned legislation repealed without prejudice, however, to the payment of benefits;”
It makes no reference, in relation to that portion, to any Special Select Committee. I did make reference to the others. [Ms. Shadick: It is parallel.] If it is parallel, it cannot be the same, Madam. They are two different things. Parallel is one of the two.
The second element is very clear. It says “ALSO RESOLVED” which means that this is something additional. It is in relation to the “ALSO RESOLVED” that a parliamentary committee be convened. Where is the difficulty with the English? Where is the difficulty? One pertains to the two Acts I have mentioned. There are three Acts involved. One pertains to a repeal, and that is of the Presidents Benefit and Pension Act, and the other two pertain to the... [Ms. Teixeira: Read it.] I read it already. I am not going to read it again. I cite it for your information. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: Please allow Mr. Greenidge to address the Chair. Go ahead.
The question of good faith I find somewhat laughable because although a number of motions have been passed by this House, not a single one has been acted on by the Government in a year – in one year, twelve months, not a single one! Here there is somebody crying over one’s milk about the non implementation of something jointly passed by the National Assembly. Give us a break.
As regards the Special Select Committee, the matter is clear. It has a function to look at two statutes. As regards the repealing of the legislation, it says immediately, and this is as immediate as we could do. [Ms. Teixeira: Read it.] I will invite you to look at it, Madam. Standing Order 26 (h), therefore, has no relevance to this particular Bill which is before you, Mr. Speaker. It would have had relevance if we would have sought to bring the other two elements to this House. We have not. The question of delay, again, in relation to the establishment of the Special Select Committee... I am just drawing your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that I am not aware that it was established three months ago, but, of course, we have colleagues here who are experts in misinformation.
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that it is a Point of Order. I am saying that you have heard it again.
Mr. Greenidge: Well, if it is not a Point of Order, I am not yielding the floor, Mr. Speaker.
I am saying, Mr. Speaker, that we are seeking here to implement a decision taken by the House. One, if you like, of two decisions pertaining to this resolution and we are seeking to ensure that a badly drafted piece of legislation be modified to bring it in line with acceptable standards of drafting. This legislation cannot be regarded as acceptable if it is open-ended. The beneficiary has open-ended or unlimited access to benefits when the state itself, which is giving the benefits, has a finite limit on the amount of taxes and revenues it can collect. That is the long and the short of it. What we are seeking to do here, Mr. Speaker, having consulted and having tried to take into account even the points you had raised, is to modify the original Bill. You know it was a Bill simply amending the old one, but cognizant of the decision to repeal, we have now brought before the House, in keeping with that decision, a repeal which also takes into account the sentiments of the resolution and the deliberations and discussions that took place around that motion.
In light of that, the modification is intended to ensure that the rights of the former Presidents as well as the obligations of the state and the former Presidents are set out clearly and unambiguously. That is all it does. It is not aimed at an individual and it should be supported by both sides if they read it properly.
Thank you. [Applause]
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