Statement from Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo responding to a motion of no-confidence filed by the Opposition
OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
Hi there, I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to speak to you about the no-confidence motion that was tabled recently in the National Assembly.
I have, today, received from the Clerk of the National Assembly, a letter that was addressed to the Opposition, informing the Opposition that the no-confidence motion would not be considered until after the debate of the National Budget that is coming on, on Monday, as well as the estimates.
In my calculation, that could be after the 15th or 16th of December or perhaps later. And, I believe that we need to address why is it that the Opposition feels that this motion should come on for discussion before all other matters, including the National Budget.
I expect that the Guyanese people would see the National Budget as a matter of primary concern to them and their lives. And, Government and I, we have worked towards a budget that is not only bigger, but better than budgets before, with stronger social content. This, for us, is very important.
We have been advised, by the Clerk of the National Assembly, that it is the government that would set a day for the discussion of a no-confidence motion. We are not running away from a no-confidence motion, we are prepared for a discussion of any such motion, but we believe that there are some issues that take precedence over such a motion.
Now, why is it that you have a no-confidence motion at this time? I believe that the Opposition feels quite wrongly that the recent Local Government Elections has passed a judgement on the government, that it was some referendum on the government which is, of course, not only trying to falsify the notion of Local Government Elections but to use it in an opportunistic way to gain an advantage that it could, in fact, move a motion against the government.
In order to move a motion against a government that is being elected by the people of this country, by the majority of votes, you have to be confident that the motion could pass – it could succeed.
In this case, the PPP has moved a motion knowing that it has a minority of votes in the National Assembly. It is the government that has the majority. And, therefore, initially and on the surface of it, a no-confidence motion cannot succeed. It is a no-go. It is a no-no.
And, therefore, you have an Opposition saying now that “Look, it is not that we want it to be approved, if it fails, we succeed.” What kind of logic is that? You start on the basis that your motion cannot succeed and you still believe it is a victory. So, you want, psychologically, to harass the Guyanese people, to use a no-confidence motion to frustrate the work of the National Assembly.
If this motion is tied, it doesn’t pass. First, the constitution – our law says that in order for a motion of no-confidence to pass it must have a majority of the elected members of the National Assembly.
I’ll repeat that. It must have a majority of all elected members of National Assembly. Our National Assembly has 65 members. It means that the motion of no-confidence, in order to pass, must have 33 members who are elected as members of the National Assembly. The Opposition doesn’t have that. It is the Government that has 33 members who are elected and sitting in the National Assembly.
So, what does the Opposition say? “Oh, we will still put the motion for debate because maybe, maybe, just maybe, one member of the government’s side may abstain from the vote.”
Well, if you abstain, assuming that is possible, then it would have a 32/32 and that is why I said just now that if a motion is tied, the mover loses the motion, so it is defeated.
So, there is no logical argument that this motion can succeed and you are on the presumption of regularity assuming that if you go this far, to move a motion, you must have some hope – some prospect of its success.
As a lawyer, I know that cases are thrown out when you go for an injunction and the judge will refuse an injunction on the basis that you have not established your case, that the writ that you have filed has a prospect of success, some would say a reasonable prospect of success.
This motion, by the Opposition, has no reasonable prospect for any success in the National Assembly.
I want to go back to 2014 because the Opposition has said that Government is frustrating the motion from being heard, that the Government doesn’t want such a motion to be debated.
We are not afraid of debate. We are old debaters. Question is, there is an old unwritten law, this is inequity that says “He who wants justice must come with clean hands”.
What is the record of the Opposition PPP on the issue of a no-confidence motion?
I tabled a no-confidence motion on the 9th of August, 2014, it was seconded by Cathy Hughes, who is now Minister of Public Telecommunications and, the government of the day – the PPP-Government refused to have that motion debated.
The Parliament was supposed to resume on the 10th of October when to motion qualified to be heard, but no Parliament was summoned. The PPP-Government, then headed by President Donald Ramotar, decided to convene the Parliament on the 10th of November.
When we appeared in the National Assembly, under Speaker Raphael Trotman, hoping that the no-confidence motion would be debated, the government’s side did not turn up.
We were told, while we were sitting in the National Assembly, that the President had prorogued the National Assembly. He suddenly sent everyone home for six months and never reconvened the National Assembly to debate my motion of no-confidence against the PPP-Government. At a time when we had a majority in the opposition, so, we had a moral right to be able to put a motion because we were sure that such a motion could pass because we had the majority of votes.
That was a lame-duck minority-government and it was running and limping away from my motion of no-confidence and, instead of debating the motion, it dissolved the National Assembly and went into elections.
Of course, predictably, the PPP lost those elections and I recall then, and I’ll share with you now, that my motion of no-confidence, contained ten words “that this National Assembly has no-confidence in the government”. I chose the ten words biblically from the ten commandments because at that time there was widespread thieving, that’s what the Guyanese say – thieving, not stealing – widespread thieving, and violation of the Constitution of Guyana.
So, that is the moral suasion with which I moved that vote of no-confidence. And so, I wanted to highlight, in the motion by using ten words, “thou shall not steal”.
Now, we know that they ran away from that motion and today, they are trying a trick to let it appear as if they are bringing a motion with ten words, which they borrowed or plagiarized from me, to show that there must be something that is wrong in Guyana or something that is desperately unsettling so that you have to move in this direction.
Our government has been a stable government. We have been able to restore peace and public order to Guyana. We have been able to build incrementality a new face of Guyana. Now, we stand on the cusp of a new oil and gas economy.
Everyone is commenting that Guyana will grow in a very exponential way, fantastically, we will develop and grow and become rich and wealthy. And so, the Opposition is salivating in those dark benches and trying to sow a picture of gloom-and-doom of Guyana. Worse yet, it is trying to take away, like the Grinch, the happy feeling people would feel at Christmas time, so they are hoping that this motion could be debated on the eve of Christmas. So that your children would not enjoy the happy festive season.
We will debate this motion, we will have this motion discussed and we will defeat it because it is not a viable motion. It is a motion that is bred out of desperation, it is a motion that is bred out of Opposition frustration, it is a motion that is bred by this opportunism to look forward to the new wealth of Guyana and trying to destabilize our beautiful country.
So, this is what I wanted to talk to you about today. I wanted to let you know that the Opposition motion, of no-confidence in our Coalition Government, is a motion that will be debated when the time comes, as the clerk of the National Assembly said, it is the government that sets a day, allots a day for the debate and this debate will not take place before the Budget presentations. It will be sometime in December and whenever it comes, we say “bring it on” and as I said earlier, it’s a ‘no-go’ and it will be a ‘no-no’. So, it will not pass. So, I hope I have been able to engage your attention these last few minutes and that you understand, now clearer, that this no-confidence-motion has nowhere to go.