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Opposition row over “limited” budgetary questions, Speaker says his integrity not a question

House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland.

Whether covertly or overtly, jabs have been taken regarding the direction of Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Barton Scotland as the opposition claims their questions on the 2015 budget are being limited.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC) side of the House has made this complaint more than once. General Secretary of the PPP and opposition member, Clement Rohee was extremely vocal when he claimed that incompetence was being sheltered.

He told the Speaker Tuesday August 25 that he noticed that the opposition is being restricted to at least three questions under each of the items being scrutinized. He said that, “I believe in the interest of good governance the opposition should be able to ask as many questions,” before yelling, “Ya’ll sheltering incompetence.”

Attorney General Basil Williams told the House that Rohee’s statement’s was bordering on “contempt” and further, “attacking the integrity of the Speaker.” However the Speaker sought no defence saying that he is not concerned about questions on his integrity, “I do not believe I have to give proof of that,” he noted.

Minister Raphael Trotman, opposition member Nigel Dharamlall, Chief Whip Gail Teixeria and Dharamkumar Seeraj also weighed in on the matter. Trotman told the House that the time and days set for discussions on the estimates were set during a meeting of the House’s Business Committee, but Seeraj said the opposition did not agree on the days and time set.

That, it was mentioned did not set aside the fact that a decision was made in the matter. Teixeria pointed out, however, that the days for scrutiny have been reduced to three days and already to go through the 10 administrative regions alone would take two days.

The opposition Chief Whip was adamant that more time was needed for the opposition to ask the questions the public wants answers to.

The Speaker explained,however, that he has been flexible with the opposition and “exceptionally lenient.” He said one member of the opposition alone asked eight questions since he kept track of the member every question he asked. The Speaker asked both sides of the House “not to pick” but to get the people’s work done.