‘I had to vote along party lines for former President’s benefits bill’ – Nagamootoo
The National Assembly during the debate over the Opposition-piloted Former President’s Benefits and Other Facilities Amendment Bill on Friday saw a raucous display from both sides as former Government MP Moses Nagamootoo defended his vote on the principal legislation which caused controversy in 2009.
Government had accused the former Minister of Information of lying for saying that he did not support the bill and yet voting in favour of it.
And Nagamootoo defended his contributions to the debate in the House during the consideration of the principal act, saying that his voting for the piece of legislation back in 2009 does not mean that he supported it, but that he had to vote along party lines.
“I know the genesis of this 2009 legislation and the opposition that I had raised to this piece of legislation, I said my soul rattled. They would not have faced the predicament they faced after elections if they had heeded my warning,” said Nagamootoo during Friday’s debate.
“I said then that we should all remember the exhortation of (Vietnamese revolutionary leader) Ho Chi Minh who taught us revolutionary morality that salary, perks and privileges will not be our main motivation for serving the people. Today we stand here and hear people in violation of those sacred exhortations,” he said in the House.
During a comment to this newspaper on Monday, Nagamootoo reiterated that he voted along party lines, “I did say that my soul rattled. I opposed bitterly the legislation. That I voted on the bill does not necessarily mean that I supported it,” he said. “I had no conscience vote. I had to vote along party lines,” he said. “I never fought against the pensions but against the benefits and other facilities,” Nagamootoo said.
“You cannot go and tell people in Little Red Village [on the Essequibo Coast] that that they cannot get light and water because the Government has to find money to pay for these benefits and other facilities,” said Nagamootoo.
Nagamootoo said also that some pro-government online media outfits went above and beyond to misrepresent the facts surrounding what he said during the debate on Friday and he intends to pursue actions against them with fervour.
Nandlall during the debate in Parliament on Friday accused his former party colleague of being untruthful with regard to supporting the extant legislation.
“At the minimum when we purport to espouse those high ideals we must at least be honest in our assertions. I read Madame Speaker when the 2009 law was passed in the National Assembly, my learned friend sat on this side of the House,” Nandlall said. “We were next to each other and he told us that it rattled his soul. Well I was sitting right there and I didn’t feel or hear any rattling. But more important I have the record of how he voted. Because a division was called and when we put ourselves on pedestals we must ensure that the record will support us,” he said.
When he read the record which stated Nagamootoo voted yes for the bill there was a huge uproar in the House.