After a meeting of its Management Committee and National Executive Committee, the AFC is awaiting a response from APNU on whether the coalition will support the party’s no-confidence motion against the government but it appears that the impending parliamentary recess has paused the action for now.
Though party members have not said so, from all indications it seems that the motion may not be laid in the National Assembly prior to the recess which begins on August 10. The Standing Orders require 48 hours’ notice for a motion to be placed on the Parliamentary agenda.
Stabroek News was told that the AFC is yet to send a copy of the motion to Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs. AFC executive member and treasurer Dominic Gaskin said yesterday that the party is not concerned with “grandstanding” and is looking for full support of the no-confidence motion once it is tabled and as a result, reaching out to APNU is necessary.
Stabroek News asked why the motion would not be circulated to both APNU and Isaacs officially to underline the seriousness of the AFC’s intentions. Gaskin noted the 48-hour timeframe and said that if the National Assembly meets this week, there is still time for the motion to be sent to Isaacs.
The no-confidence motion was drafted since June 24 and AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan had stated that it would need to be discussed at the party level and then disseminated to the relevant stakeholders.
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Gaskin stated that the AFC would like to see the motion tabled prior to the recess. He said that it was out of courtesy that the AFC reached out to APNU first. He said on Friday, a letter was sent to APNU leader David Granger and while the AFC hoped for a response on that day, they knew that such a decision would take time. Gaskin noted that the AFC is seeking the support of APNU because the intention is to proceed by “working towards using Constitutional recognition and forcing the government to step down.”
Stabroek News asked Gaskin if the no-confidence motion is tied to APNU’s support and he responded no. A no-confidence motion, if passed, would trigger general elections. APNU’s parliamentary votes are needed to pass such a motion but the coalition has yet to make a decision on the matter. Analysts have said that it is in a tight spot over whether or not to support the AFC-led move. Statements from APNU representatives including Granger have indicated that the coalition does not view the matter favourably.
Gaskin said that APNU’s support would ultimately be needed for the no-confidence motion to be successful but the AFC has every intention of tabling the motion as the party felt that government’s continued abuse of powers is detrimental to Guyana.
Gaskin stated that government’s controversial Financial Paper No 1/2014, which was submitted by Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh on June 19, was the catalyst for the no-confidence motion. He noted that while the Financial Paper was the trigger, the AFC would not wait for the paper to be debated before moving ahead with the no-confidence motion. As it stands, with the Parliamentary recess just one week away and a sitting uncertain, it is highly unlikely that the Financial Paper will be debated.
Gaskin stated that through the Statement of Excess, Singh has authorised $4.5 billion out of the $37.4 billion that was disapproved by the opposition from the original $220 billion 2014 national budget, to be spent and this is unconstitutional.
He asserted that government’s failure to call and hold local government elections, the failure to establish the Public Procurement Commission as well as the Statement of Excess, have stalled proper governance. According to Gaskin, the AFC’s no-confidence motion is necessary to push the government forward or out. He said that the money spent from the Consolidated Fund would not warrant any retroactive action because the funds were already spent.
Government has come under criticism for the lag in debating the Financial Paper. After submitting the Statement of Excess on June 19, the National Assembly met again on July 10 but Singh was absent. The government did not proceed with the paper and the contentious item was not on the Parliamentary agenda due to the minister’s absence.
Singh told Stabroek News on Thursday that his work was essentially done because he had tabled the Financial Paper.
The National Assembly has not convened since July 10 and government’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had expressed sentiments that the Financial Paper may meet the same fate as the stalled anti-money laundering legislation.