Norton withdraws rights commission motion

-after PPP/C signals opposition

Following an embarrassing defeat of a motion to grant duty-free concessions to employees of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Chairman of the committee of appointments Dr George Norton yesterday chose to heed the advice of his colleague Cathy Hughes and withdraw a motion to have the members of the Rights of the Child Commission (ROC) approved.

Norton had yesterday moved in Parliament that the Ninth Report of the Committee on Appointments in Relation to the appointment of members of the Rights of the Child Commission be adopted but members of the opposition signalled that they would not support the motion which Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill told the House would require a two-thirds  majority vote.

“It would save this assembly much useful time if the mover of the motion considers withdrawing it at this stage. This motion requires a two-thirds  majority and for a motion of this nature to come to the House without consensus is to create a difficulty. To bring the motion without assurance that it enjoys the support of the entire house is to create an unnecessary crisis,” Edghill said before reminding that if defeated the motion would be unable to return until the 12th Parliament.

He argued that the government side of the House is becoming dangerously dependent on its one-seat majority and stressed that the need for a two-thirds majority was enshrined in the constitution because of the belief that rights commissions such as the ROC are of such importance that they must serve all of the people beyond politics.

He accused government of attempting to manufacture controversy by submitting a report which is very different from that which was agreed in 2014.

Edghill pointed out several glaring omissions such as the removal of the Christian community from those to be consulted for nominees in the religious sector.

“Tonight we are not determining the names of members but the entities to be consulted as to who the nominees to the ROC will be….religious organizations have to put up three nominees but only the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana and the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha are listed…the Christian community is left out,” he lamented.

Edghill also pointed out that while there is no longer a Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security it is listed as one of the entities to be consulted.

“The motion is so deficient that it shows it has not been properly thought out…as a National Assembly we can do better, the people of Guyana deserve better,” the Member of Parliament intoned.

Following Edghill’s presentation and one from Opposition parliamentarian Ganga Persaud and Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, Minister of Public Telecommunications Cathy Hughes stood to advise that the motion be withdrawn.

Hughes told the House that the committee had made numerous attempts to contact the various organizations listed over a period of a year but failed to do so.

“The committee has been actively involved with the support staff of parliament in trying to reach the organizations listed, writing to organizations, making phone calls and placing advertisements in the Newspaper,” she told the House adding that the opposition members of the committee had also stopped participating after initially being supportive. 

“We sat as a united committee six months ago trying to work out how we get the representation both government and opposition want but opposition members stopped participating. After all of this I think it is unfair for them to come to this House and not mention all the efforts that had been made,” Hughes stressed before advising that the motion be withdrawn.

Norton in response withdrew the motion to allow the opposition another opportunity to participate in the selection process.

Other members of the Committee of Appointments include Amna Ally, David Patterson, Sheila Veersammy and Annette Ferguson.  

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