Symbolic 12th Parliament says Minister Gail Teixeira.

─ Constitutional bodies’ budgets approved

─ First Indigenous Deputy Speaker elected

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, the Hon. Gail Teixeira, is adamant that Tuesday’s opening of the 12th Parliament became very symbolic with the election of an Indigenous Deputy Speaker. But this was not the only history making event.

For the first time there will be no cuts to the budget proposals laid out by the constitutional bodies, Minister Teixeira relayed during the National Communications Network’s programme “News Extended”, on Tuesday evening.

“As you may remember in 2016, right through the budgets have been cut by the Minister of Finance and certain agencies quite drastically, in particular the Auditor General’s Office and the DPP’s Office that are critical.” … “This is the first time in six years that since that amendment that the constitutional bodies proposals or requests for money was not cut.” The Minister stated.

Minister Teixeira was referring to the year 2015 when the APNU+AFC Coalition took office and subsequently amended the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) ACT 2015, to separate the constitutional bodies and allow for their budgets to go forward. This amended Act was passed in the National Assembly on 20th July 2015.

According to the explanatory memorandum, the purpose is to establish the financial independence of certain constitutional entities by providing for lump sum payments to be made to these entities. In this way, the entities are freed “from the automatic obligations of Budgetary Agencies and the discretionary powers exercised by the Minister of Finance over Budgetary Agencies, which obligations compromise their independence which they are intended to have as contemplated by the Constitution”.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister explained that the process was smooth because there was no contention on Tuesday, unlike in the past, as the act makes it clear that one cannot question the line items or the heads of any of the constitutional bodies, only the Minister of Finance, with regards to any amendments he has made to the request.

“We had reviewed the constitutional bodies proposed budget and we accepted them and recommended that they be approved as is.” The Minister said.

Another important matter explored according to Minister Teixeira, was the five-month delay in getting the declaration of the elections results. Explaining that His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali was sworn into office on August 2 and one month to that date the 12th Parliament was opened, however, as per norm Parliament goes into recess from August 10th to October 10th.

“Now of course there has not been a sitting since May 23rd 2019 and so it was critical that we had to bring a motion to allow us to meet during what is called the recess period of Parliament so we could get urgent Parliamentary matters on the floor of the house, as well as bring the budget for 2020, the estimates and revenue expenditure for 2020. We have been operating without a budget for eight months.” The Parliamentary Minister explained.  

She added that the timing for the Parliamentary sitting for the budget debate has also been amended.

“We had to amend the standing orders to allow for that.” … “Normally you know Parliament meet from 2 o clock (2:00PM) to about 10 o clock at night, we have changed the hours to start from 10 o clock in the morning with breaks in between and going as late as 8 o clock at night.” Minister Teixeira stated.    

In the meantime, the Senior Government Minister was especially proud of what she described as a symbolic day and date in the country’s history during the opening of the 12th Parliament.  

“First of all it was a very symbolic day because it is the beginning of the Amerindian Heritage Month, September 1st signals that, and as you saw it was significant too because it is the first time that an Amerindian has become the Deputy Speaker, so I thought it was an extraordinarily important issue to be recognized.”  Min. Teixeira

Before being sworn in as a Member of Parliament, Lenox Shuman who represents three joinder parties; The New and United Guyana (ANUG), the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and the New Movement (TNM) in the house, was elected as the Country’s first Indigenous Deputy Speaker.  

His nomination was made by Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Hon. Mark Phillips and seconded by Minister Teixeira herself.

“We have never had a Deputy Speaker who is Amerindian” … “And what a better time to do it than the first day of Amerindian Heritage month. She noted.  

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