Rohee bills rejected by opposition

The combined opposition parties yesterday voted down bills proposed by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, continuing their policy of withholding support after their no-confidence vote against him last year.

APNU and the AFC voted against the second readings of the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2013 and the Fire Service (Change of Name) Bill 2013, despite presentations by members of government explaining their significance.

The opposition has, however, signaled that it could support the passage of the bills if they are presented by another MP.

On the Evidence (Amendment) Bill 2013, Rohee as well as Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall said that the proposed amendment would re-orient the act, enabling it to take into consideration changes in the system as well as speed up the Guyana’s lagging judicial system.

Nandlall said that the most recent proposed amendment would ensure that Guyana’s laws keep up with the various technological advancements being seen and bring speed to a slothful judiciary.

The case for the passing of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill was made by Transport Minister Robeson Benn, who reinforced calls made by Rohee for the second reading of this bill in particular. Benn highlighted the congestion which is rampant on Guyana’s roads and stated that stricter laws are needed to ensure continued recognition and compliance with the country’s road laws. He said that this particular bill included a limit on the amount of penalties (demerits) applied to wayward drivers before their licences are revoked and they are banned from acquiring another.  Rohee also said that the bill would address the lapses in Guyana’s vehicle registration process. He said that all details between a vehicle’s seller and buyer will be documented meticulously, and within a specified period of time. Rohee said that this will ensure the easy identification of a vehicle’s owner, which will become especially useful when determining the owner of a vehicle used to commit a crime.

Rohee said that unless these changes are made, persons will continue to exploit the systems.

It was PPP/C MP Joe Hamilton who joined with Rohee in a bid to win support for the changing of the name of the Guyana Fire Service to the “Guyana Fire and Rescue Service.” They said that the name change is warranted given that the body engages in more than simply putting out fires.

Rohee said that it is the Fire Service which is called upon to rescue persons from badly disfigured cars, while Hamilton said that the recent presentation of four ambulances to the body is a testament to its diverse responsibilities.

Despite these arguments, however, the combined opposition voted against a second reading of all three bills. Justifying the parties’ decision, APNU MP Rupert Roopnaraine said the opposition to the bills was an extension of the parties’ continued lack of confidence in the Home Affairs Minister.

Both APNU and the AFC had previously passed a vote of no confidence against Rohee and called for his resignation or sacking. The combined opposition had also opposed his speaking in parliament. Rohee is now allowed to speak without opposition, but the parties have indicated that they would pursue a policy of non-cooperation with the minister.

Roopnaraine said that if the government is serious about passing these bills, it should place them under the purview of an MP in which the opposition has more confidence.

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