by Kurt Campbell
Opposition Member of Parliament and former Minister under the PPP Government, Bishop Juan Edghill has been referred to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges over false statements made in the House which he has refused to withdraw.
Government Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud moved the Motion which was seconded by his colleague MP Jermaine Figueira, requesting that Edghill be referred to the Committee.
Any matter which appears to affect the powers and privileges of the Assembly is referred to this Committee, which has the duty to consider any such matter and to report thereon to the Assembly.
The Speaker is the Chair of that Committee.
On December 17, 2015, during a debate on salary increases, Mr. Edghill claimed that the increases amount to $1 Billion and refused to withdraw the statement even after government MPs offered clarifications.
Persaud believes the statement misrepresented the salary increases and Edghill’s refusal to withdraw violated his privileges and the Standing Orders.
Meanwhile, the Opposition wants the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, to be referred to the Privileges Committee over statements made in the House.
Trotman had said that when the coalition government took office it met an alarming situation where 100 percent or all of the productive forests were allocated by the past PPP/C government.
In a letter to the Speaker, Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira said she believes the statements were misleading and asked for an apology or for the Speaker to have him referred to the Privileges Committee.
But Minister Trotman maintains that his comments came directly from a document presented to him by the Guyana Forestry Commission. He said at no time was he called on to retract his statements during his presentation. “I am not aware that I am obliged to respond to public theatrics.”
He in turn called for Teixeira to be sanctioned for bringing what he said was a spurious and vexatious matter to the House. His refusal to offer an apology and withdraw the statement ended with a call from the Opposition MP for him to also go before the Privileges Committee.
Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland advised that the Opposition must follow the procedures.
At the start of the sitting on Wednesday, the Speaker announced that he is in possession of several complaints of breaches of privileges submitted to him by Members of Parliament against their fellow Parliamentarians.
At the start of the sitting, Dr. Scotland thanked Members for their submissions and said that the complaints may or may not warrant sanctions by him.
“The speaker intends to review and treat with all complains,” he committed.
He reminded members that the rules of the House must be held in strict regard by all members. Those rules he said too must be treated with dignity and respect and is expected to be upheld by all members of the House.