In his maiden speech to the National Assembly as Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton hammered the PPP Civic government as being a government that has no interest in democracy, democratic practices, and the rule of law.
Mr. Norton was at the time making his contribution to the Government’s motion to change the quorum that is needed for a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee to take place.
The Government eventually used its majority to pass the motion, but before that was done, Mr. Norton reminded the National Assembly that many of the changes that the Government has been making in the National Assembly are against good governance and the rule of law.
“The things they are doing, they are seeking to destroy democracy. Ask the Honorable Member Dharamall, and you know why he couldn’t answer the question (about local government elections), he couldn’t answer the question because he doesn’t believe in law. And he knows his practice of not having those internal elections are anti-democratic and all they do is that they serve to give him domination and control which he should not have”
The Opposition Leader also argued that Government should allow its motions and Bills to be examined properly by stakeholders and not rushed through the National Assembly without consultation. He said even civil society is being ignored by the government.
“We have got to recommit to democracy. Democracy presupposes the involvement of people and being responsive to them. Mr. Speaker, In the Davies report, it is well established that there is a place for civil society…
The Opposition believes that by changing the requirements for a quorum for the PAC to meet, the Government can now stymie the work of the Committee by its members simply staying away from the meeting.
Under the previous rule, once three members of the PAC were present, regardless of whether they were from the Government or the Opposition, those three members formed a quorum and allowed the Committee’s work to move on. With the new rule, five members will have to be present, two from the Government side and two from the Opposition side along with the Chairman of the PAC.
The Public Accounts Committee is the most powerful parliamentary committee and is responsible for scrutinizing all of the government’s spending.