The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 20132677 14 Feb, 2013
Ms. Shadick: Thank you, Mdm. Deputy Speaker. I listened to the Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, and I am reminded that this House has 65 Members and I do not think that I heard incorrectly. I did hear him say, and the record should bare me out, that the two parties have the requisite two-third majority votes.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: I think he was speaking about the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
Ms. Shadick: He could have been but he is hoping that the third party joins. I do not think that he was speaking about the APNU and the PPP.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: Well, Ms. Shadick, I do not think that we should go into what he thinks. I do not think that we should go into what he thinks.
Ms. Shadick: I am just trying to point out that two-thirds of 65 is 43 and not 33 and I was a math teacher so I do not think…
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: Mr. Greenidge, I do not think that you should seek to… No names were called. I got a different interpretation from the Hon. Member so I think that we should just move on.
Ms. Shadick: Mdm. Deputy Speaker, with all due respect, you are the Deputy Speaker, you are not part of the debate.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: I must… Are you saying that…
Ms. Shadick: I am interpreting what the Hon. Member said as I heard it.
Mdm. Deputy Speaker: Yes.
Ms. Shadick: He could not have been assuming that the Government was joining with APNU to form the two-third majority. That would have been way out. There is another thing Mdm. Deputy Speaker.
Article 222 assures the independence by way of making provisions for the remuneration of the President, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, a judge – all of the judges of the Supreme Court - members of the Elections Commission, members of the Judicial Services Commission, members of the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Services Commission, the Police Commission, the Ombudsman, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Auditor General and the Commissioner of Police. The independence of those persons is assured because their remuneration comes in article 222 and it is provided for that they will be directly drawn from the Consolidated Fund.
Article 222A necessarily has to form a part of article 222 or else it would have been numbered 223 and so what article 222A… This was in the deliberate judgement of all those eminent and qualified people, who sat on the Constitutional Reform Commission, whose recommendations came to this… Their recommendations became part of this revised Constitution in 2001, or 2002. Those people sat and deliberately put in 222A to say that they are making the holders of the offices’ independent. Nobody can interfere with their independence but article 222A is put to distinguish that the expenditure incurred by the bodies, not all of them, will be met directly from the Consolidated Fund. That is what article 222A did; it established the Third Schedule. Those entities, which are listed in the Third Schedule, are listed there after deliberately being so decided by a set of people, of whom I was not one – the former Speaker, I think, was one of those persons, the Attorney General and others. They deliberately said that the expenditure of each of the entities, and they listed those entities. Having just seen what is in article 222, all of those things about people who hold the offices of President and members of those Commissions, they deliberately listed only those entities in the Third Schedule.
They had reasons. First, to now come and say blithely that they had forgotten to put in these things I am not buying that. I do not think the citizens of Guyana will buy that because those people had spent a long time deliberating on these things and to say that it is simply a matter of error or it is a typographical error, so let us just put them in and it should be agreed with, and so on, it is not that simply. My saying that article 222A has to be part of article 222 has implications of what I spoke of from the beginning that the two parties, together, have the requisite two-third majority to pass this Bill because article 222 is one of the articles, which is listed in article 164, that requires a two-third majority to be altered or changed.
I have no knowledge of what happened or did not happen at a tripartite forum. I am not speaking from inside knowledge about anything else. I always like to go straight to the point and I do not like to waste this House’s time. I am standing here to say that, as a part of the Government benches and as a Member of the Government side of this House, I totally reject that the Third Schedule and article 222A can be changed by a simple majority, which is what the Opposition benches have. It has to form part of article 222. I totally reject the notion that the Government and the APNU will vote together and then they will have the two-third majority and leave out the AFC, because I always thought that the AFC was tied to APNU. Their navel strings were buried together, so they were tied. I always thought they were one from the way they behave. That is why I will be forgiven when I understood the Hon. Member Mr. Greenidge to say that the two parties had the requisite two-third majority.
I am standing here to say that this Government is not going to frown its nose at the deliberate judgement of the members of the Constitutional Reform Commission, who sat down and drafted article 222A and listed those entities deliberately in the Third Schedule, and say that they forgot have and so we are now going to add in them.
On that basis I totally reject that this Bill should find any favour in this House. [Applause]
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