No-confidence motion should be debated before budget – Jagdeo

Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said the PPP/C’s no-confidence motion against the government should be debated in the National Assembly before the presentation of the 2019 national budget.

“We are hoping that a decision would be made and the matter would be debated prior to the budget. The budget has not been presented as yet and the convention is that once a no-confidence motion is filed that it takes precedence over other issues. So, we are hoping that this will be done,” Jagdeo said during a press conference that was held at his Church Street office yesterday morning.

Hours later, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced that the 2019 budget would be presented on Monday.

During his press conference, Jagdeo noted that the PPP/C has gotten word that the government wants the motion debated in December, after the budget is presented and passed. He reminded that it is the Speaker who is responsible for saying when the motion comes up for debate.

“We’re gonna be watching carefully to see how the Speaker acts in this matter because it is not the executive that makes that determination, it has to be the Speaker…check the democracies around the world, that if a no-confidence motion is filed [against] the government, you can’t proceed to a budget debate when that is hanging,” he said before questioning what will happen if the motion succeeds.

“There is that self-interest on this matter but having said that, we expected that once the Speaker was appointed that he has a duty to not only the executive… but to all parliamentarians and he would exercise that duty and responsibility fairly and impartially. We also expect the Speaker not to depart from what is international practice and norm in relation to [a] no-confidence vote and so we are hoping that the professionalism of the Speaker will prevail,” he said.

When asked what would be the opposition’s next move if there was no word from the Speaker during yesterday’s sitting, Jagdeo responded, “I don’t want to speculate at this point in time.” He reiterated that the Speaker does not have to look very far for precedence because similar motions were filed in the region.

Jagdeo could not say if there was any plan to raise the matter in the National Assembly. Up to late last evening, none of the opposition MPs raised the matter in the House.

“I don’t know how the day would evolve and I don’t want to preempt anything through speculation,” he said.

Last Thursday, Jagdeo announced the filing of the motion, while saying the coalition government is damaging the country’s future prospects and accusing it of corruption and mismanagement.

“Clearly people are unhappy with the direction of the country; [with the] policies and practice of government…. Government has no vision. We are drifting, they have absolutely no plan for Guyana. They are using up our money on frivolous things, such as celebrations, food and rentals [and] they are borrowing a lot. They are damaging our prospects for the future,” Jagdeo said, while noting that the worst that can happen is that government uses its one-seat majority to defeat the motion.

The passage of the motion, which would trigger the holding of new general elections within 90 days, would require the support of at least one government Member of Parliament (MP).

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who is currently acting as president, subsequently dubbed the motion an act of “provocation” and he said it was insensitive while the sitting president is out of the country for medical attention. Jagdeo subsequently denied that the opposition was trying to capitalise on the president’s absence.

PNCR Chairman and Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence who was with Nagamootoo at a joint press conference held by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) added that no government MP would support the motion. “Let me say it loud and clear: We are not for sale,” she said.

A sitting of the National Assembly was postponed last Friday at government’s request to facilitate an urgent meeting with its MPs on the no-confidence motion.

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