by Zena Henry
President David Granger has promised to appear in Parliament every year to redefine is legislative agenda for the Parliament and outline the direction of the country for that particular year.
This is according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who told the media on Thursday 11, 2015, that the President’s speech at the re-opening of Parliament was just the first of annual speeches to be made each year.
While this may not be a regular feature of the country’s Parliament, the law provides for the president to address the House at any time. Harmon said that the President intends to go back to parliament every year and to “redefine” his legislative agenda. “What we saw (June 10) was the president laying out his vision for the National Assembly and for all of Guyana for the next five years.”
“So what you will get is on an annual basis you will have a direct focus on what we are going to do in that year.” The Minister said that after the president would have given his speech, the country would be aware of what it is that the Parliament would be working toward for that particular period.
“So all ministers, all of the government departments will now have the president‘s vision for the next five years going up to 2020.”
In the Tenth Parliament, former Speaker Raphael Trotman had written to then President Donald Ramotar suggesting that arrangements be made for him to address the Parliament annually. The suggestion would have referred to the British Parliament which has five sessions in every life span. The Parliament is prorogued by the Queen at the end of every session to facilitate her speech which is much like the vision for the House. It is then reopened for the People’s business to be carried out.
Parliamentary Clerk Sherlock Isaacs told Demerara Waves Saturday June 13 that the President could make an address in Parliament at any time. He pointed to Trotman’s suggestion to the former President and said it would have allowed for a Parliamentary address on an annual basis. However with President Granger’s choice to speak to the Parliament yearly to reaffirm the sirection for that period, it would serve the same purpose as proroguing and reopening.
The Minister of State said that the President wants to be clear on how he sees the country developing and the responsibility of the National Assembly. “He believes as we all do that this country cannot be developed by any one group of persons, that it is important and necessary for all persons who operate in a representative capacity to understand that they do not operate in their own capacities and so government ministers and other members of parliament whenever they are sworn in must understand that you represent the people’s interest and that the peoples interest must be paramount.”
As the serious work for the new government commences, Harmon said that, “the transition from the previous administration to the current administration has been relatively seamless.”
He said the ministers, their juniors and vice presidents are settling down and have already started to engage the public on their particular responsibilities. He said the response from the public has been favouable so far.