Bill to repeal former presidents benefits read for first time

The Opposition using their majority in the National Assembly today passed a motion in the National Assembly granting leave for the introduction of a Bill to repeal the controversial Presidents’ Benefits and Other Facilities Act of 2009.

The motion to introduce the Bill follows up on the deliberations on an earlier motion on the President’s Benefits and Other Facilities passed during last year. One of the resolve clauses of this previous motion was to have a Special Select Committee look at the emoluments of special office holders in relation to the President’s pension.

After the passage of the motion, the bill was read for a first time.

At today’s sitting, APNU’s Carl Greenidge piloted the motion which saw heavy opposition from the Government, whose speaker, Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira said the motion is in bad faith. She also accused the Committee of not meeting in three months.

“The Bill violates resolution 22 [of Greenidge’s earlier motion] which called for the Special Select Committee,” she said. Teixeira added that the Bill is not the best way to go forward. “This is not the way to go,” she stressed.

“We feel that it has been a breach of faith to move a motion to bring a Bill that undermines the work of the Special Select Committee,” she said.

However, in rebuttal Greenidge said that the Government should not be talking about good faith when it has refused to honour motions passed in the National Assembly.

Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman said that he tried to persuade Greenidge to wait until the completion of the work of the Special Select Committee but he was not successful in getting Greenidge to defer the motion.

Following the passage of the earlier motion last year, Greenidge had tabled a Bill to amend the 2009 Principal Act. However he withdrew this to replace it with a Bill aimed at repealing altogether the Act and replacing it with one that pares down the level of benefits the former President receives.

The benefits act passed during the tenure of former President Bharrat Jagdeo has been hugely controversial.

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