Steps to be Undertaken to Establish the Independence and Authority of the National Assembly752 22 Oct, 2012
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to repeat what Dr. Ramsammy said, but when you read the Hon. Member, Mr. Ramjattan’s motion and knowing that we had a sub-committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Political Parties this year and the sub-committee dealing with Parliament and the Constitution, which was compromised of myself and Dr. Ramsammy, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo and Mr. Nigel Huges, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine and Mr. Hastling Parris, we met from March 21st, I think March 28th and decided to have a status report of the Davies Reports, which was prepared for the sub-committee and shared with them in May. This was based on the Special Select Committee of this House.
So whilst we may have had Davies recommendations, Bradford’s and Pinders’s, these were recommendations, but the Guyana Parliament in 2005 had its Select Committee, as Dr. Ramsammy said, went through the recommendation and eliminated and agreed to some of them and agreed to some of those. So between April 2006 when the select committee submitted its recommendations, I was asked by the Inter-Parliamentary Sub-Group to go through the recommendations of the select committee and to provide for their members, some of whom who were not Members of Parliament, some were new member, what were the stages of all the recommendations that were approved in this House. Therefore, we did that and that was shared in May. We had meetings after that, on May the 23rd and we agreed again that the sub-committee wanted a further revision to the refining of the status report so that they could tell easily what was implemented, what was in stages and what was not implemented.
That is what Dr. Ramsammy has been referring to and this is the documented that we presented to the sub-committee. Regrettably, I guess, in fairness to the Members, that so many other things were going on – the budget and then Linden and then everything else – and that for some reason the sub-committee itself was not reconvened. I was not the convener, but I took on the responsibility in the early period of checking with commerce. Subsequently, I did not and maybe that is why, but we did meet. I must say that when one goes through the status report which we are prepared to share in the House, if it would be of use, we had not discussed it we just gave a report, Dr. Ramsammy and I, from our knowledge of the Parliament, what the Clerk had done and so on. What I am saying is I do not think we have to reinvent the wheel. There were matters that were recommended in 2006 that were part of the Constitutional Reform process and the report shows you where in the recommendations of Davies, Pender and Bradford what were put into the Constitution; what were captured in the Standing Orders and those where there were differences of views in the Select Committee of 2006 that had to go to the Parliamentary Management Committee.
I agree with Dr. Ramsammy that a lot has been done and if you do look at what were the actual recommendations instead of mystifying Mr. Davies, Mr. Pender and Mr. Bradford’s reports, that I think you are ardent to, that really some of them were very basic, to improve it and certainly in terms of accountability and transparency, all those issues that were reported and recommended. Ministers must answer questions within a certain time that was put in the Standing Orders, it was not there before. Ministers coming before the Sectoral Committees, these are things that were enshrined in the Standing Orders to reflect some of the Constitutional Reform process, but to even ensure that these were done. If you go through them you can see these clearly.
The other thing though is the issues that were referred to the PMC. In fairness to the PMC Members, which were five-five – five Government and five Opposition Members – as today and the Speaker of the day, Mr. Ramkarran that having come into Parliament in the Ninth Parliament, Mr. Franklyn as a Member of Parliament for Guyana Action party (GAP) brought a motion for Select Committees to discuss these issues. It did go to that Committee. It was headed by Minister Webster who was elected as the Chairperson of that Committee. Many times she came to this House asking for more time and one of the problems she was having was non attendance by Members. If we want to go through all that you will find that a number of meetings were sometimes called off because of lack of attendance.
So we cannot say well, why the Parliamentary Management Committee (PMC) not did what they were supposed to do. The PMC – once the motion had passed the House – the view was, let the Select Committee do what it was supposed to do, regrettably the work was incomplete, but that does not mean that nothing was done. I was not a Member of that Committee, but I remember I was advised that a number of presentations were made to that Committee on the employment issues of staff, on the Public Service Ministry appointments as well as other issues to that and the discussions were, as I said, inconclusive.
It is important too that I regret that Mr. Nagamootoo, being a member of the IPDB does not appear to have brought his colleague up-to-date because this motion was tabled while we were in the sub-committee of the inter-parliamentary group. This was put in April and we started meeting in March and it caused a lot of confusion in the sub-committee and Dr. Roopnarine can say if I am telling the truth or not that we were not sure whether this was now pre-empting the work of the IPPP (Inter-Parliamentary Political Parties) sub-committee or whether it was some left hand and right hand that did not know what it was doing in the AFC and that was not clarified, so that at a certain point we come to this House to look at this issue.
I just want to bring the attention of this House; in the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, in the second review of countries which was done in 2008, a number of the Caribbean countries, not a lot, but a few, had reported that they had set up where the Clerk was the employer of the Parliament staff. In the Inter-American Commission against corruption and it can be found on the website and in a number of countries who have implemented this, that there were a number of questions raised and in the answers it showed that there was also a problem of subjectivism, of procedures that would allow to make sure that there were checks and balances. Therefore, there was less of openness in relation to this approach. As such, when we talk in this very sweeping way that Mr. Ramjattan has – a style he had in the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) too, I see he has not changed it since he changed parties.
Mr. Speaker: Was it cultivated there?
Mr. Teixeira: We tried Mr. Speaker, we tried to change his approach but we failed abysmally and he has continued on in the same way.
Mr. Nadir: He was trained by Mr. Nagamootoo.
Ms. Teixeira: It was Mr. Nagamootoo, right?
Mr. Nadir: So they both ended up at the same place. [Interruption]
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, the issue though is that what is important even when one goes by some of the conventions, it is protocol, procedures, laws, systems, etc. that are watched. Whilst the colleague on the other side, Mr. Ramjattan, made, I think, some very sweeping and unkind and unwarranted comments about the Parliament staff, I will say this, that having been in Parliament for a while, I think the Parliament staff has improved amazingly in terms of their competence; in terms of their skills; in their objectivity and professionalism. I do not understand where Mr. Ramjattan is coming from personally. I remember the days when you came in here – long years ago – I am seeing now a wealth of younger people, they are well educated and I do not think that they show preference to one of us over another and that is the issue of professionalism. I do not believe that there are more accommodating to the Government than to the Opposition. I think that they do their work according as they are supposed to. They are professionals. I believe that the issue of criteria and procedures; the issue of the Public Service Ministry and the advertisements and the hiring mechanisms... [Interruption] [Mrs. Backer: Who sent them to demonstrate?] Mr. Speaker, I hear a noise over there as usual, the Deputy Madam Speaker has a habit.
There was a question in the last Parliament to the Hon. Minister, Dr. Westford about the hiring practices and the appointment practices of Parliament staff. Am I correct Dr. Westford? Dr. Westford answered on the floor, because it is the Parliament that chooses from the applications who it wants and that goes to the PSM (Public Service Ministry). Am I wrong Dr. Westford? It is the PSM and the PSC (Public Service Commission) who does the appointments. It is not the PSC that says do not worry about who applied for the job, you have to take this person.
One must be careful that when one throws out the baby with the bath water that what you are putting in its stead is of a higher standard and scrutiny than what it is now. Because if we advertise and there is a panel that evaluates and in this Parliament it is done, then what is wrong with that?
I believe and I also say to this Parliament that ... [Interruption] Mr. Speaker, Mr. Davies was invited to this Parliament to give us advice. It does not mean that who gives you advice is always what you take. It is our choice and I am not going to be beholden to anyone who comes to give a consultant report. Because we have had consultants, I remind this House that there have been consultants who had made many recommendations too. When the People’s National Congress (PNC) was in Government and while we were in Government, were we to go with all those rules we would have been in serious trouble today. I remember the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) saying to this Government in 1994 that we must have cost recovery in health and education; we must not have free health and education in this country. It was this Government under Dr. Cheddie Jagan that said no, we will not do what you are saying.
Comrades, I do not mind, I am happy that we have advice, but we have a right to be our own people and I stand by it. I have nothing more to say about Mr. Davies.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of amendments that have been put in my colleague’s name ... [Interruption] Mr. Speaker, I hear a little thing over there calling me a control freak.
Mr. Speaker: I did not hear that.
Ms. Teixeira: I would appreciate...
Mr. Speaker: It is 7.10 p.m. and we are due for the break at 7.00 p.m.
Ms. Teixeira: Yes, I am closing off Mr. Speaker. I do not want to delay you too further.
Mr. Speaker: I am saying to the entire House and some Members have indicated to me that there is an event at 9.00 p.m. in another jurisdiction that they want to observe, so it is up to us.
Ms. Teixeira: Mr. Speaker, there are amendments put in my colleague’s name that tries to and it is today that it was tabled since June 13th when we realised that Mr. Ramjattan, despite the work of the sub-committee, at some point was going to proceed with this. I also see an amendment tabled by Mrs. Volda Lawrence as well, it was also date June 8th.
We stand by the amendments we have made. The recommendation of the first BE IT RESLOLVED clause, in the original motion we are asking for it to be amended. And particularly that we are calling for the Parliamentary Management Committee to review the Parliamentary Special Select Committee’s final report, with a view to assessing the status of the implementation of the agreed on recommendations with a view to following up on the implementation.
This is a process and we have started it and we have gone a long way. The issues that are outstanding that goes to the PMC, have to go there. Therefore, this is a new Parliament and therefore we quite feel that the sub-committee have lapsed and that also it seems as if the IPPP sub-committee has also lapsed, so I would suggest that we support Minister Ramsammy’s proposal that the PMC look at the status of implementation and work towards addressing those that we have not and also, that we should then submit a report to the House in a timely manner.
So those are the recommendations our side I would like to support Mr. Speaker. Thank you. [Applause]
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