The government and the opposition on Wednesday continued to be at loggerheads over when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo should speak during debate on the 2015 National Debate, with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) charging that government is fearful of the Economist’s arguments.
“They frighten Jagdeo, you know. The main problem is that they terrified of this man because when he get up and talk economics and finance, some people will get diarrhea,” said Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira. She questioned whether the government is afraid that Finance Minister, Winston Jordan would be unable to defend himself and his government. “Is this a sign of a lack of confidence in Mr Jordan that he got to have Moses (Nagamootoo) come after Jagdeo. Jagdeo is a seasoned politician although you didn’t think so when he was a technocrat but he is a politician,” she said.
She charged that based on the speaking order during the debate, the government was placing at least four speakers ahead of the Opposition Leader who is a constitutional office holder, and former Finance Minister.
Teixeira is also opposed to the latest formula disclosed to reporters by Government Chief Whip, Amna Ally that Jagdeo, a Russian-trained economist, will speak before Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and then the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan.
The PPP insisted that the order should be the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and Finance Minister in keeping with what it says is a convention and “time honoured tradition.” “That is proven in the Parliament records for the last twenty odd years so saying that he now has to come before is not a parliamentary convention,” she said.
Ally told reporters a different version that her formula has been the practice and so there was no attempt to muzzle Jagdeo. “There is nothing like muzzling the Opposition Leader because normally the Prime Minister closes off and the mover of the motion, who is the Minister of Finance closes the motion,” she said.
The Opposition Chief Whip conceded that the PPP would be unable to stop the government from doing what it wants in this regard but it will be an indictment of the House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland if he goes ahead. “I will go to the Speaker and I will tell the public and then you will find out on the floor what will happen.
“If the Speaker is going to be willing to let the Leader of the Opposition be muzzled in that way to go against the time honoured tradition- parliamentary convention that’s global- well he will make his legacy,” she said.