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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Private members Motion

Hits: 2614 | Published Date: 02 Aug, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 27th Sitting- Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Odinga Lumumba, MP

Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, my comrades on both sides of the House, Mdm. Backer said that I should take my leave from Dr. Rupert Roopnarine and I do not have a problem with some of the things he has said. I want to point out to Brother Rupert Roopnarine… I say “brother” for many reasons and he knows why I say “brother”.     [Mrs. Backer: Were you in the WPA too?]               I never was. I know the days when the Member of Parliament took on the People’s National Congress because of what he remembered then as its wickedness and its exploitation of the masses. I think that he still has copies of several of his speeches. Also I remember that on many occasions Brother Rupert Roopnarine had to jump several trenches. I want to point out to Brother Rupert Roopnarine that he should remember the days when old-age pension was $300.                    [Dr. Roopnarine: It was a disgrace then.]         It was a disgrace then and I am so happy… I wish that you had said that in your presentation and pointed out that this Government, this  political party, which at one time you walked with, saw the necessity to move it to a point, not necessarily where it should be now, hopefully it would be better in years to come.
It is important to point out to this Assembly that when the first change was made it was made to accommodate the late President Desmond Hoyte to ensure that his wife was taken care of by this country. Very important, we understand that.
I oppose this motion for several fundamental reasons. The first reason, to me, is that this motion seems to be vindictive. It seems so. It seems to be personal. It lacks a given objective - several things in this motion. At one point it seems to attack the pension, at another time it seems to attack the benefits, but everyone will benefit from the pension. There is debate; there is interpretation of the benefits.
This motion also is contradictory. It is contradictory because the presenter of this motion can be question as to his reason of collecting pension and benefits. I will get to that.
We must not only talk about the pension and benefits, but of historical reasons behind pension. In my presentation I will attempt to show that the world questions those who collect pensions when they play part in undemocratic leadership. The world questions getting pensions when individuals were part of a cabal that destroyed economies and left societies in shambles.                  [Mr. Greenidge: What are you talking about?]        You will get that. You will know that it is you. An unworthy worker, a destructive leader or an unproductive Minister cannot and should not justify collection of pension.
What is Mr. Greenidge afraid of? Does he believe that President Jagdeo would rent a maid or sell a few cars by means of his tax exemption, as a certain leader in this House who has sold two or three cars? If there is a need for clarity, I think Member of Parliament Dr. Roopnarine made some profound statements. If there is a need for interpretation, I believe that the process has to be a different process. The process cannot be one of dialogue; the process cannot be one of trying to disdain, trying to condemn people, trying to say that we are up to some wickedness. I think Member of Parliament Dr. Roopnarine…
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Lumumba, did you get that from Dr. Roopnarine’s presentation?
Mr. Lumumba: Dr. Roopnarine’s presentation clearly explains why he went to Cambridge and why the others did not go many places because they lack understanding of what the process should be. I believe the process to develop this country has to be a process of dialogue. A one-seat majority does not mean that everything has to be pushed down our throats. It means that we have to talk and we have to discuss things.
It is my position…
Dr. Roopnarine: Mr. Speaker, I am not in the habit of rising on particular Points of Order, but I wish to say that I thought I had expressed the wish that in the Special  Select Committee, which   was being proposed, there would be precisely the kind of dialogue my honourable friend is talking about and I was not…
Mr. Speaker: In fact you anticipated consensus being arrived at rather than that not being the case.
Dr. Roopnarine: I did.
Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, I am rather disappointed in Brother Roopnarine. With all his brilliance and control of the English language, I thought he would have had a better understanding of grammar.
I said clearly that the process should have been different, as opposed to a process that seems antagonistic, whether it is in the Special Select Committee or whether it is in another form; that has to be worked out. What I am saying is the process could have been different and should have been different.
It is my position that this issue must be grounded in the role people play, and either by being productive or unproductive. Furthermore, the mover of this motion needs to agree that he cannot be qualified for a pension and I will put this on the table.      [Mr. Nagamootoo: He brought the tax [inaudible]…]        I will not respond to Cde.  Nagamootoo. Mr. Robert Williams is dead and it cannot be justified when Mr. Nagamootoo had collected the envelope. I believe that some people should not get pension and some should.
I want to talk about the World Bank report on Guyana, June 24, 1991. I found interesting, at that point in time, that the Minister of Finance was the Hon. Member Mr. Carl Greenidge. The report states:
“Guyana’s Economic Reform Programme continues to be carried out under difficult circumstances of negative economic growth caused by adverse factors, deterioration in infrastructure and excessive debt burden.”
The report further said…    [Mr. Greenidge: To which report is he referring?]       It is the World Bank report on Guyana’s state of economy under the PNC – The World Bank Report, Guyana Recent Economic Report, 24th June. [Mr. Greenidge: That is no report from the World Bank.]     You have asked me to quote it and I have quoted it. As Mr. Rex McKay would have said, “You have to go and find it. I have quoted it.”
Mr. Greenidge: Mr. Speaker, would you please invite him to cite the correct report, please, on a Point of Order.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, you have referred to a 1991 World Bank Report. Is it a country report?
Mr. Lumumba: Yes Sir. It is the   Recent Economic Development, 24th June. Do you want to see a copy, Sir?
Mr. Speaker: I think that that is sufficient specificity that it could be found.
Mr. Lumumba: It further said that urgent attention has to be given to rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. The report further stated:
“Except for the bug-like mining under the Reynolds concession, the other activities are handicapped by continuous divestment and neglect resulting from years of inappropriate economic policies. Physical infrastructure, notable transportation, immigration, drainage and sea defences are bottleneck to augment production.”
I am making the point that the mover of the motion was the most destructive economic element   in this country and he has no right to bring this to the House.
Mr. Greenidge: Mr. Speaker, on a Point of Order, I think the rules governing who can and cannot raise motions are quite clear. I would ask the Member to restrict his comments to the motion before him instead of regaling us with all of this nonsense.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, I was in fact just going through the motion to see in what part or parts you were speaking on and to say that any Member, who is here, has been elected by the people of Guyana to represent them in this House. We may say whatever we may want to say but the people of Guyana have elected Mr. Greenidge to be here. If it is your opinion that he ought not to have brought this motion, the people have said to him, “Do so”. It is in the same way that they elected you to represent them.
Mr. Lumumba: I will withdraw that part of it, but I will still say, based on the economic report that I am reading, the mover of the motion has been the most destructive economic element in this country.
Mr. Speaker: Proceed, not on that point, with the debate.
Mr. Lumumba:
“Further, as a result of poor policies, deficient management, financial difficulties and disintegrating physical infrastructure, agriculture production has been declined. Sugar production in 1990 was less than 130 tons or about thirty-seven per cent of the output prior to nationalization of the industry.”
Similarly, Member of Parliament, Mr. Greenidge –
“Rice output has continued to fall and in 1990 was half that of the late 1970s.”
I am just really trying to make the point that there is a genesis in this document. I believe that if the PNC election was held in January Mr. Greenidge would not have brought this motion to the table. I believe that this is a poor propaganda document to generate a fan club and Amna Ally…
Mr. Speaker:  It is the Hon. Member Ms. Amna Ally.
Mrs. Backer: Mr. Speaker, on a Point of Order… [Interruption]
Mr. Lumumba: It is the beautiful Amna Ally.  
Mr. Speaker: Okay, Hon. Member, there is a Point of Order and I recognise the Deputy Speaker who is trying to get my attention.
Mrs. Backer: Mr. Speaker, I think that it is absolutely inappropriate for the Hon. Member to refer to the Member of the House by her name without giving her an appropriate title and to try to think that he is complimenting her by saying that she is beautiful, which is also derogatory. It is a very sexist statement and I ask that… I nearly said “she withdraws it” because he sounds like a woman in distress.
Mr. Lumumba: You sound like a man in distress. Mr. Speaker, I apologised and said “the beautiful Chief Whip, Amna Ally” and she loves that. She has no objection to that.                         [Ms. Ally: I object to it.]          Is it to me saying that you are beautiful?
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, for the benefit of all Members, we will refer to each other as Honourable or Minister or as Comrade from time to time. The rules permit that. If we want to embellish with who is handsome or beautiful, I do not know. Let us just stick to the official formal honorifics.
Mr. Lumumba: Mr. Speaker, do not misjudge me because I appreciate somebody. I made this point because I believe this motion was based on a different type of politics, because the PNC, or APNU, in its interest did not see the necessity of moving this motion or carrying out the discussion of this motion prior to the election last weekend.         [Mrs. Lawrence: We did not have the dispensation.]         Well, they did not. They understood clearly the irrelevance of…
Mrs. Backer: Mr. Speaker, I am constrained to rise again. I do not know if the Hon. Member Mr. Lumumba has any authority…    [Mr. Nagamootoo: The handsome Mr. Lumumba.]       I do not want to stretch it to fantasy now. … to speak about APNU and what  our motives were and suggest that Mr. Greenidge… I want to put on the record that this motion in the name of the Hon. Member is a collective motion by APNU and it is fully supported by all Members of APNU, including the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, just to say that Points of Order must be referred to a particular Standing Order that is being violated. If a Member gives his or her opinion as to the political context in which a motion or Bill is introduced he or she is entitled to do so and, of course, in rebuttal, the Member  may rebut what  Mr. Lumumba said, but his statement has not contravened any Standing Order, per se.
Mr. Lumumba: Thank you for protecting me, Mr. Speaker, from this hostility.
Mr. Speaker: What I would like you to do is the wrap up.
Mr. Lumumba: The irrelevance of this motion can be seen by the productivity of ex-President Jagdeo and the way he managed the society.     [Mrs. Backer: Productivity? How many children does he have?]           It is unfortunate that the Member of Parliament only sees productivity in terms of pregnancy, but productivity can also be in the form of the economy.
The real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.4 per cent in 2011.      [Ms. Ally: What does that have to do with anything?]       I am justifying why he must get his pension. You raised the question of the pension, Mr. Speaker, and I am giving you the justification. I said earlier that the Member of Parliament, Mr. Greendige, should not get any pension. I am telling you why the ex-President should get his pension. Inflation was contained to 3.3 per cent in 2011 - an improvement, after the destructive element of Member of Parliament, ex-Minister of Finance, Mr. Greenidge.
Rice production, in 2000, was 291,000 tons; it increased to 401,000 tons in 2001. When the Member of Parliament was Minister of Finance, rice farmers left for Suriname by the dozens.
Government Sector: Public sector deficit as a per cent of GDP amounted to 4.4 per cent. Gross international reserves at 2011 amounted to $798 million. Under former Member of Parliament Greenidge, it was just over $295. Shame!
Mrs. Backer: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a Point of Order. Standing Order 41, “Contents of Speeches.” Standing Order 41 (1), which speaks about relevance, “…a Member shall confine his or her observations to the subject under discussion.” I stand to say that this Standing Order has been breached so many times.
Mr. Speaker: Before you proceed, Mr. Lumumba, let me say that you are entitled to address the House, but you are not entitled to impugn the character of the mover of the motion. If it is that you would like to lay the foundation as to why it is that the former President is entitled to a good pension, do so, but you are not to juxtapose that the mover…, because he was never a former President and he demitted office on 5th October, 1992. I will not permit you to try to impugn the character or the performance of the mover, but I cannot stop you, and will not try to stop you, from building a good case as to why you think that the immediate past President is entitled to the pension that he receives or is entitled to. That is your right.
Mr. Lumumba: I accept. I apologise. I agree. Mr. Greendige has done enough and I would not continue on that. I would not mention that.
Infrastructure Development: Under President Jagdeo, the Takatu Bridge was completed in 2009; Berbice River Bridge was completed in 2008; there was the completion of four-lane road – Ruimveldt to Providence, construction of the Aquatic Centre in 2011, construction of the Guyana National Stadium in 2007, reconstruction of the Mahaica to Rosignol main public road, reconstruction of East Corentyne Highway, construction of the CARICOM Secretariat and the National Convention Centre.
Mr. Speaker, how can you be against someone who took a country from darkness into light? How can he be denied a pension?
There are Generals throughout the world who have been denied pensions because they have brutalised the state, because they have killed people, because they have denied people their democratic rights. This President has been a good President. President Jagdeo has been a good President. He had been a President of the people of Guyana. He is accepted by the United Nations (UN); he is accepted by Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and CARICOM.
I do not understand how a Member of Parliament who has never served as a President can judge a President, a man…
Thank you Mr. Speaker. [Applause]

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