Mr. Nadir: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First let me offer my congratulations to the Hon. Member, Mr. Bulkan, on his maiden presentation and while we listened attentively, because he just arrived on the scene, he has a lot of shortcomings in terms of how the history has been written, a lot of short comings, but he did have a very steady presentation and we on this side commend the Hon. Member… [Interruption by Members of the Opposition]
We really like his enthusiasm of wanting to move the process forward. I will advise the Hon. Member that moving the process forward has to start among the Members on that side which he sits. He has to get them to the table… [Mrs. Backer: Who is “He”?] I did mention “Hon. Member”…and he has to get them to move this process forward.
I, like many of the Members who have seen this seventeen-year period to hold Local Government Elections, have had to go through this ritual, this pilgrimage, as the last speaker, the Hon. Member Mr. Williams, said. But why we are here is because of the actions of the other side – the People’s National Congress Reform and then the People’s National Congress Reform – 1 Guyana. Now, I hope with the new dispensation, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), it will move the process forward.
Let us go back a bit in the history. The one person in this country who, perhaps, can sit, eye to eye, with the experts on local government on this side name is Mr. Vincent Alexander. He used to sit at the front. The process of the task force, Hon. Member Mr. Bulkan, was moving forward. Why? Mr. Alexander not only has the academics, but the experience in local government reform. When he started to make decisions in the task force in the interest of the country and the reform, which went counter to the Leader of the People’s National Congress, the party withdrew him from the task force and replaced him, with whom? It was the Hon. Member Mr. Basil Williams, who sits opposite me. So there was that going to for and fro. We had an experience just now when the Hon. Member got up under Standing Order 48 on a Point of Order. He just pulls things out of the air. I know he does not do that in court, and this National Assembly deserves as much as he gives his paying clients, in terms of his representation of the people – as much as! [An Hon. Member: Are you sure you want to say that?] Yes! I heard that he is a good lawyer and he works for his money, but Standing Order 48 has nothing to do with the issue for which he stood, and Standing Order 40 (1)....
The Hon. Member stands here, every time we have this Bill, and he paints this story that it is the Government that does not want local government reform. So in the last Parliament we said, “Let us put the Bills in a Special Select Committee.” That Committee was nominated. We sat time after time. The Hon. Member, in the corridor, said to me, “If you all are so interested, bring it and what we do not like we will object to. Bring it. Why wait?”, and so we went into a Special Select Committee. When we were about to bring the report – if the attendance of the people who are now calling for speedy introduction and local government reforms now is checked - … Check the representation they brought. When, in June, we said, “Yes. We are going to bring it here,” and the first report was tabled, we had the call. The National Assembly does not work on these discussions alone. It works on consultations. We had a call from the Leader of the People’s National Congress asking for us, once again, to re-engage – after we have done all that work in Special Select Committee. I am telling you from first-hand experience, because I was there. The Hon. Member who spoke before me cannot speak from first-hand experience because he was hardly there. He was hardly there.
So we went into the recess in August, 2010 and as we re-emerged from that we entered into this new… But we are prepared, as the Hon. Member Mr. Ramjattan said, to bring those Bills back right away and let us move forward with them, because we are confident that, while this National Assembly has a particular makeup, further elections will see who is responsible and who has the nation’s interest at heart first, and we can see, and we will see, massive reversals.
I stand in support of the Hon. Minister for the postponement of these elections and I join with every other Member who said let us get the reform re-tabled and finish with the expedition. It is not that on one hand expedition is called for and when ready to reach to make a decision, “not yet” is said. We call them the “not yetters” and the “yes butters”. So let us move forward, put them here and have them so that we can see Local Government Elections be held under this new system of reform which the five Bills addressed.
Before I sit, I want to deal with one issue. We are hearing the issue of the Local Government Commission will produce a budget that will be funded by the Consolidated Fund. That is what the first speaker, the Hon. Member Mr. Bulkan, said that the task force said. It is not that easy always to translate... Mr. Speaker, you have been in a particular reform commission and you know the kind of work which had to be done to get those into law. So the Members, on the other side, criticise the fact that a Member from the Ministry of Finance should be on this Commission. We hear the Parliament Office wants to do its own budget and send it on. We hear this Commission wants to do that. In the end, we better do not have a Minister of Finance, because people will be taxed of out the country, because there has to be a responsible way of spending the limited dollars that we collect. So there has to be, in that arrangement, some mechanism for the vetting and consultations for budget, as goes on now. We have to be careful.
These are where some of the inertia exists so that progress cannot be as swift as we want. If what I am hearing here tonight is an indication that we really want these Bills to be passed as soon as possible and go to Local Government Elections, this side of the House, the Government side, your right hand side ..., and there are only two sides, the Government side and the Opposition side. There are not three sides as far as I know.
Thank you very much.