Parliamentary Management Committee has not met for more than a year

The Parliamentary Manage-ment Committee (PMC) has not met for more than a year but the government and the opposition both have to take blame for this PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira says.

The Parliamentary Management Committee, according to the parliamentary website, was established by Resolution No. 16 of 2003 of the National Assembly of the Eighth Parliament of Guyana.  This committee “has to consider and decide on matters relating to the business of the National Assembly and such other matters which it may wish to consider or may be referred to it by Committees or the National Assembly,” the website said.

The failure of the PMC to meet for more than a year came up recently during a debate on a motion which the government brought to the House to permit Parliament to meet during the upcoming recess in order to complete its legislative agenda. The motion, which was in the name of Prime Minister Sam Hinds, called for the suspension of Standing Order No. 9, in order to allow the Parliament to continue to sit no later than or until September 27, 2011, when it is to be dissolved. PNCR-1G Leader Robert Corbin and AFC MP Sheila Holder both chided the government for not having the matter brought before the PMC.

When Stabroek News contacted the Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs, he explained that the Speaker, who chairs the committee, had directed him to write both sides of the House asking if they had any business for the committee to discuss but no one responded, hence, no meeting was held.

Teixeira, during a telephone interview with this newspaper yesterday, said that both sides of the House have to take blame for the PMC’s failure to meet in more than a year.  Pointing to the make-up of this committee, she said that there was a “collective responsibility” by both sides of the House for the committee to meet. This committee is chaired by the Speaker and consists of 10 members, 5 from the opposition and 5 from the government. All the parties in the House are represented on this committee, she explained. The Clerk, she said, had been very diligent in writing to the parties about business for the committee to discuss.

Questioned about the role of the PMC, she noted that it came out of recent parliamentary reforms and that this was the first parliament during which it was implemented.  Since its implementation several important issues were discussed at the PMC, Teixeira said. She believed, however, that the PMC would develop in “momentum and dynamism” in the 10th parliament.

PNCR-1G Chief Whip Lance Carberry  told Stabroek News that the meetings of the PMC tended to be sterile and as such the Speaker of the House decided unless there was some special business he would not convene a meeting of the committee. However, when the parties were written to no one had any business to discuss. Carberry, who once sat on the PMC, advised this newspaper to contact PNCR MP and Deputy Speaker Clarissa Riehl for further details on the operations of the PMC. However, attempts to contact Riehl were unsuccessful.

Carberry said the government side had been asked several times before to submit to the PMC on a quarterly basis their agenda for parliamentary business but this was never done. When questioned about this, Teixeira said that the PMC never made a such a ruling regarding the request by the opposition for the government to submit their business on a quarterly basis. She said that during discussions at this forum it was clear that this would be challenging since some bills take a long time to be drafted while others come up unexpectedly.  She said too that the government would frequently publicize its legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, Teixeira said that it would be unfair to be overly critical of the Parliament because of the failure of the PMC to meet regularly. She pointed out that there are several other parliamentary committees that have been functioning extremely well.

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