Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira says there are issues with various parliamentary procedures that need to be addressed and cited the breaching of Standing Orders, which she said is deeply concerning.
At her weekly press conference on Wednesday, which deals with the PPP/C’s take on the happenings in Parliament, she said that with a sitting scheduled for December 30, Members of Parliament are still to know the agenda.
Teixeira said it was a serious breach for a sitting to be called, when the Standing Orders which say six days’ notice is required were not adhered to. Teixeira noted that public holidays are not counted when the days are calculated.
She said she has advocated in the past for the Parliament Office to take out full page ads in the newspapers that would allow for the public, as well, to be kept abreast with committee meetings.
Teixeira said, “The Parliament Office needs to have a page they take out in the newspapers, say on a Sunday saying what’s on in Parliament, what committees are meeting. So the committees that are open to the public… the people know. I understand there is a second problem that the media people have not been receiving the weekly agenda on a timely basis… These are maybe small things but important things.”
She accused the APNU+AFC government of withholding information that would assist with the PPP/C’s budget recommendations.
Teixeira said that even though the government often criticised the PPP/C for not sharing information they are not themselves adhering to the tenets of the Access to Information Act 2009.
She said that in the light of government’s unwillingness to share, it is unlikely that the December budget submission deadline will be met as this significantly ties up the ongoing process.
Criticising the government for its lack of a “robust Parliament” Teixeira said government business was not at the level it had been under the former administration. She noted that the Standing Orders also call for every fourth sitting to be Private Members’ business, which would be for the opposition to bring forth various motions. But the PPP/C has been informed this is not likely to occur until the 20th sitting. Teixeira said that this is not likely until late February or early March.
She said government has taken an attitude of, “As things come up it will call… It will go in fits and bursts.”
The opposition Chief Whip said in evaluating from the last parliamentary sitting in October, prior to the December 17 sitting, “outside of the ministers travelling and outside of the government trying to avoid the debate on the ministers’ salary increases that they also did not want, they had nothing to put on the agenda.”
Aside from the budget debates over the course of 10 days in August, the National Assembly has only had five sittings, August 28, September 9, October 22 and December 17 in lieu of the November 12 sitting which was postponed.
Under the former administration, Teixeira recalled, there was a regular pattern with members of the media, the public and MPs knowing Thursdays were most often designated sittings.