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Ramotar fears horse trading will destroy democratic culture

Parliament Building- the seat of the National Assembly

In the wake of concerns that the minority government is refusing to give into a number of demands in exchange for the opposition’s support, President Donald Ramotar on Saturday feared that such a system could destroy democracy.

“What it will introduce will hurt poor people even more. It creates lobbying, creates heavy lobbying into politics and who will be able to lobby but those who have deep pockets,” he said.

Noting that the United States (US) was trying to find a way out of political lobbying, the President was worried that the dollar could eventually influence politics in Guyana. “Looking down the road, what do we see can happen that parliamentarians could be bought?” he queried.

His comments came in the wake of the refusal by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), with its 26 seats, and the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) insisting that they would not pass amendments to the 2009 Anti Money Laundering Act unless the government gives into setting up the constitutionally required Procurement Commission without Cabinet’s  right to no-objection and Ramotar’s assenting of Local Government Bills passed by the House. The opposition has also been using its one-seat majority to vote down budgetary allocations for projects such as the Specialty Hospital, the rehabilitation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and the Amaila Falls Hydropower plant.

Suggesting that the opposition’s posture might be in favour of unnamed vested interests, he warned that horse-trading ran the risk of changing our political culture. It’s a moral dilemma. I am not saying that I will not do it but I am just telling you that I have a moral issue sometimes with some of the problems coming up,” he said.

He disagreed that the 32-seat minority Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP) administration was ignoring the will of the majority in the 65-seat House. “The joint opposition in parliament a technical majority but do you think the people voted for them to come together and destroy the development of this country?” he questioned, adding “I don’t think so.”

The President has refused to assent to a number of bills passed by the House, saying that they are either unconstitutional or did not benefit from the executive’s input.