Parliament meets today

Guyana Chronicle
February 19, 2003

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A SITTING of the National Assembly is scheduled today to debate a motion tabled by Mr. Robert Corbin, Leader of the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform, (PNC/R), which has boycotted Parliament for about a year.

The sitting, at the Ocean View Convention Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, starting at 14:00 hrs, is being held on a day when private members business takes precedence over any other on the agenda.

The request for the debate was made to Speaker, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, by Corbin to discuss a number of issues of public concern.

As a consequence, today's sitting is likely to see Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud requesting a suspension of the Standing Orders to allow the Assembly to debate the motion by Corbin.

The PNC Leader, at a news conference last week, announced his party's intention to discuss a number of issues including the proposed increases in electricity rates and the looming crisis at the Guyana Power and Light company; problems in the rice, bauxite and sugar industries; cost of living; unemployment; the deteriorated and alarming crime situation in the country and the rise in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

His motion calls on the Government to take the following action urgently within clearly defined timeframes:

** support the freeze in electricity rates at their present levels until all agreements, memoranda and commitments made by the Government and or proposed agreements with respect to electricity generation, supply, and management by GPL have been made public and presented to the National Assembly for approval by a two-thirds majority in the Parliament;

** present, to the parties in the National Assembly for consideration and approval of an emergency plan to lift Guyana out of its current economic crisis;

** establish a Select Committee of the National Assembly to mount a public enquiry into the functioning of the Guyana Police Force and to make recommendations for the increased efficiency and efficacy of the Force, including recommendations for improved conditions of service;

** set up an emergency fund and a rescue programme to be managed with the full involvement of the Parliamentary Opposition parties to address the plight of the unemployed and, in particular, unemployed youth in villages throughout Guyana;

** establish the Parliamentary Management Committee as provided for in the St. Lucia Statement of 1998 to bring about meaningful change in the conduct of the business of the National Assembly within the spirit and letter of the said agreement;

** immediately implement the already agreed Constitutional Reforms including the establishment of the Sectoral Committees, the Standing Committee on Constitutional Reform and the Ethnic Relations Commission;

** grant permission and issue licences for the establishment of private radio stations;

** implement within a clearly defined schedule all decisions made in the Hoyte/Jagdeo dialogue process.

The motion also wants the Government to among, other things, release annual subventions to the Trades Union Congress and engage the Guyana Public Service Union in "proper wages and salaries negotiations".

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