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Opposition parliamentarians force suspension of debate on ‘oil money’ law

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2021, 19:22 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) supporters on Wednesday evening forced House Speaker Manzoor Nadir to suspend debate on the controversial Natural Resource Fund Bill.

After opposition Chief Whip Christopher Jones failed to convince Mr. Manzoor Nadir to push back debate on the legislation due to public outcry by the opposition and civil society organisations, initially 18 opposition parliamentarians rose stood up and banged the desks.

Mr. Nadir then called on Mr. Jones and a number of other parliamentarians to leave the Chamber, but they refused and continued to chant ‘No theifing bill will pass’, ‘No thiefing bill will pass’.  After Finance Minister Ashni Singh kicked off debate on the Bill, almost immediately the opposition parliamentarians walked around the Chamber, blew whistles and continued chanting.

The House Speaker then suspended the sitting for a few minutes.

The People’s National Congress Reform-led APNU+AFC as well as five civil society organisations are demanding that the new Bill be opened up to public participation on the amendments. They are objecting to the reduction of an oversight committee from 22 to nine and the inclusion of a Board to manage the Natural Resources Fund. That Board would be appointed by the President.

Also facing strong objection is the formula being used to draw down oil revenues for deposit into the Consolidated Fund.