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Gov’t again refuses to proceed with local gov’t bills

Consideration of the local government bills was once again postponed when the government declined to proceed with its business at Thursday’s sitting.

The administration had wanted the sitting postponed until August 7 and had sent a letter to that effect to Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman and Opposition Leader David Granger but it was rejected on the grounds that they had overstepped their authority.

When the day’s sitting commenced Prime Minister Samuel Hinds moved a motion that it be suspended so the government could try for an agreement with the opposition on the return of the rejected Amaila legislation.

Both the APNU and the AFC voted against the motion and the Speaker called for consideration of the day’s business to begin even as he noted that the government had indicated that it was not going to proceed with the business in its name.

In voting against the motion Granger said he saw no need to postpone the sitting since there was nothing on the table from the government on a way forward and he was doubtful anything could be achieved in the time available. The National Assembly goes into recess for two months from August 10.

Trotman meanwhile said he believed that there was “good and sufficient” reason for the postponement but it was the manner in which the government went about it that caused consternation. He also admonished the parties to remain engaged and to proceed in “good faith” or they would all be characterised as failures.

The government had refused to present the bills at last week’s sitting after the opposition had rearranged the order of the business to move them ahead of the Amaila legislation. The opposition said they feared that the president would not assent to the bills once passed if he had already received support for the Amaila legislation. The government has said it is unhappy with two of the local government bills which the opposition amended in committee.

The parties have said they want a concrete assurance that all four bills would be assented to after passage through the House. The bills are essential to the holding of local government elections which were last held in 1994.

A Guyana Elections Commission official has said that at least a six-month period would be needed for it to prepare for the elections since there would be need for voter and participant education on the new systems.

The House was adjourned until August 7 but it is yet to be determined if the bills would be debated before the recess.