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Speaker disallows request for Committee to hold public forums on future of GuySuCo- PPP

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PPP Press Statement

On the 31st day of May, 2017, in keeping with its mandate, the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services made a decision to hold public forums as follows:

  • Region No. 4- Demerara/Mahaica on 7thJune, 2017;
  • Region No. 3- Essequibo Islands/West Demerara on 9th June, 2017;
  • Region No. 5- Mahaica/Berbice on 14thJune, 2017; and
  • Region No. 6- East Berbice/Corentyne on 21st June, 2017;

to meet with various stakeholders in these communities and to discuss with them and receive their views on the future of Guysuco and the sugar industry for the purpose of preparing a report for transmittal to the National Assembly.

As required by Standing Order No. 95(8), approval was sought from the speaker for these public forums to be conducted.

On the 5th day of June, 2017, the Speaker informed the Committee, through its Clerk, that he disallows the request and withholds his consent for the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services to conduct the said forums.

The People’s Progressive Party considers this as another attack on Parliamentary democracy by the Speaker. Further, we view the rejection of this request, as nothing short of an abuse of power and an undue interference with, and restriction of, the democratic right of Parliamentarians to properly represent their constituents and the reciprocal constitutional rights of these constituents to receive information from and exchange views with their elected representatives.

Since the constitutional creation of the Standing Committees almost two decades ago, they enjoyed an unhindered freedom to discharge their mandate both within and without the precincts of the National Assembly without any restriction from a Speaker.

The nation is very much aware of the public outings of other Sectoral Committees, e.g. the Sectoral Committee on Social Services conducts regular visits to public health institutions and other agencies which fall under their portfolio with the permission of the Speaker.

It, therefore, begs the question, why this sudden restriction being placed upon the Economic Services Committee as it seeks to discuss the Sugar Industry which is so critical to our nation’s economic wellbeing and which represents the lifeblood of tens of thousands of people. The PPP also recalls the difficulties it encountered at the hands of the Speaker in getting motions debated on the floor of the National Assembly in relation to the sugar and rice industries.

We do not regard it as coincidental that the Speaker’s position on these industries bear a striking similarity to the posture taken by the Government in respect of the said industries.

We call upon the Speaker, therefore, to review this decision forthwith and to grant permission to Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services to meet with the Guyanese people to discuss the future of Guysuco and the sugar industry, which are so crucial for the economic wellbeing of this nation and thousands of its citizens. If the Speaker fails to do so, we will find it extraordinarily difficult to persuade our constituents that the chair is not grossly lacking in impartiality.

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