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‘Teeth’, ‘tief’ and rice cereal at Budget Debate

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Texiera appealing to House Speaker Dr. Barton Scotland for more time to be granted to her colleague, Irfan Ali.

As heckling filled the halls of the National Assembly for the first time during the 11th Parliament, National Assembly Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland, was forced the caution Members of Parliament (MPs) against the use of “unparliamentary language.”

Much heckling was directed by government MPs toward Opposition MP, Irfaan Ali, as he made the first presentation during beginning of the 2015 budget debates on Monday.

Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, was forced to make representation on Ali’s behalf on two occasions as a result of Monday’s heckling.

As Ali commenced his presentation and moved to condemn the current administration for taking billions away from Guyanese by through several of its proposed policies, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, said that it was the former administration which took money away from Guyanese by “tiefing.”

At this point Teixeira rose and complained to the Speaker of the National Assembly,  Dr. Barton Scotland, about the nature of Ramjattan’s comments, particularly his comment about “tiefing.”

Responding to Teixeira’s appeal, Scotland, asked MPs to “avoid heated expressions which suggest unparliamentary language.”

Following Scotland’s intervention,  Irfaan moved to criticise government for contemplating increasing the salaries of ministers and other senior public servants by an alleged 100 percent, and for taking money away from Amerindian communities with its policies, at which point, Minister of Public Protection and MP Volda Lawrence, said “just like Pauline Sukhai teeth,” referring to Sukhai’s use of approximately $2 million in tax dollars to carry out work on an unknown nature on her teeth. At that point government Chief Whip and Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Allly glanced at Sukhai and said “smile, smile.”

Ali sustained an almost consistent barrage of heckling during his presentation and was, at times, forced to pause until the heckling eased.

Ultimately Ali’s time expired before he finished his presentation. Representing Ali again, Teixeira stood and asked Barton to allow Ali five more minutes to complete his presentation since “the heckling was so loud I could not hear the comrade and I’m sitting right next to him.”

Scotland, though,  noted that “Ali has completed his speech and has taken his seat,” and allowed the next MP to commence his presentation. 

When Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin was making his presentation, Ali rose to his feet and asked if his colleague on the opposite side had factored in the production of rice cereal. Gaskin’s retort: “My question is have you eaten it.”