Friday, 16 March 2012

Roman Catholic body denounces Parliamentary sitting

This March 10th 2012 article appeared in the Kaieteur News (A newspaper from Guyana). Seems that the Catholics there are making sure they have a say - Right is Right. I think that is great.

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana wants a more disciplined and focused approach in Parliament.

“Our country held national elections on 28th November, 2011, the historic results of which have restored optimism in many that our parliamentary democracy can be further strengthened.”

“It was not until 16th February, 2012 (approximately 80 days after the elections) that the real serious business of the people commenced with the government presenting two financial papers in the form of an Appropriation Bill to the Legislature for approval and passage. “

The two financial papers presented by Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh were for appropriations totaling approximately $5.7 billion of which discretionary contingency spending was $2.4 billion.

The body noted that some portions of the financial papers presented were heatedly debated and rejected by the combined opposition for lack of supporting documentation and greater transparency. “This unprecedented development signaled the dawn of a new era. The government, through Prime Minister Hinds and other Ministers, was quick to register publicly its anger, distress and disagreement with the opposition’s action in a tense press conference.

“For its part, the opposition remained unmoved, and through its comportment confirmed its determination to introduce a different modus operandi in the way that parliamentary business – particularly those of a financial nature – is conducted.”
The Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of the Roman Catholic Church of Guyana noted that since then there have been some irregularities. It noted the absence of the new Speaker of the House without due explanation; the combative, at times visceral, nature of the deliberations contrary to the norms of parliamentary conduct; the anger laced press conference of the Minister of Finance, and its uncontrolled aspects unbecoming of a minister of the Government.

The Justice and Peace Commission noted that the five-week adjournment requested by, and granted to, the Government for renewed discussions on the said financial papers without any objection by the opposition delays the other urgent business of parliament. “This is disrespectful to the nation.”

The JPC considers the conduct of that sitting of parliament detrimental to the functioning of effective governance and accountability in the affairs of our country and can undermine the national dream of a democratic society coming out of the 10th Parliament.

“It is expected that the tenth Parliament will meet consistently with shorter adjournments to conduct with decorum and civility the legislative business of the people.”

“The Commission will therefore be monitoring very carefully all matters of governance and parliamentary affairs and where necessary, will comment to further the growth of a better Guyana.” The body noted.


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