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Speaking at his routine post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the President yesterday, the HPS said the venue was changed because of the unavailability of the Parliament Chamber for sittings of the National Assembly because of repairs being carried out to the roof and ceiling of the eastern wing of the Public Buildings.
Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs had noted in a release that in order for a change of venue for sittings to be effected, it was a requirement that Parliament be "prorogued and a Proclamation issued by President Bharrat Jagdeo appointing a new venue."
The requirement was brought to the attention of the Head of State and the Ocean View Convention Centre which was identified as an alternative venue, was approved as being appropriate by Cabinet when it met on Tuesday.
"After Cabinet considered the advice of a special team set up by the Parliament Office to examine alternative sites for holding Parliament during the rehabilitation of the roof of Parliament, Ocean View International Hotel was identified as the location for the upcoming Parliamentary session," Dr. Luncheon noted.
At the session, Government will be presenting Bills that address the criminal justice system, including "one for toughening sentences for gun crimes and one for toughening sentences for kidnapping and extortions," the Cabinet Secretary said.
In October both President Jagdeo and Dr. Luncheon announced Government's intention to introduce legislation that will make penalties for gun crimes and kidnapping more stringent.
The HPS noted that the recent developments in the crime upsurge locally have made it necessary for the laws to be tightened.
President Jagdeo had noted that the present legislation is inadequate to prosecute such cases and consequently Government has taken the decision to go to the National Assembly to amend the existing legislation.
He also indicated that not only persons kidnapping people or directly involved in gun crimes, but also those acquainted with the criminals, must face the penalty.
The Head of State had called on citizens to support this move, since it is in the interest of the nation.
Many groups and citizens have been calling for the Administration to introduce stronger legislation to deter serious crimes, the Guyanese Leader noted, and he hopes these persons and groups' support would be forthcoming when Government moves to Parliament.
Referring to the lack of support for the recently passed anti-crime Bills, President Jagdeo said persons often call for Government to act and when it does, the people remain quiet.
When asked about the procedures of the upcoming sitting, since it will be held at a new venue, the HPS said the special team pursued a survey of the reasonable alternatives and the choice that was made is based on the results of that survey.
"I am advised that the Ocean View Conference Centre was deemed the most suitable and its location provided for conditions that whilst not exactly identical to those enjoyed by Parliamentarians at the current location, offers the best of the rest-or the other alternatives," the HPS said.
However, Dr. Luncheon voiced his uncertainty of the arrangement being made for the Media to attend the session and guests of the hotel at the time the sessions are being conducted.
Only the venue of the Parliamentary Sessions is being changed. All other activities of the Parliament will remain at the Public Buildings, he added (GINA).