Edghill sent to Privileges Committee over excessive Govt pay hike figures

As the National Assembly on Wednesday held the 36th sitting of the 11th Parliament, several actions were moved for three Members of Parliament (MPs) to be sent to the Privileges Committee.
The first motion heard was tabled by Government MP Charrandas Persaud for Opposition parliamentarian Juan Edghill to be sent to the Privileges Committee over inaccurate figures declared by him in relation to salary increases for Government Ministers.
In December 2015, Edghill told the National Assembly that the salary increases totalled over 0 million per year. But Persaud pointed out on Wednesday that those figures were “erroneous”. He noted that despite efforts, the former Junior Finance Minister failed and refused to withdraw his statement, as such, Persaud called for the Opposition MP to be sent to Privileges Committee.
“… the members of the National Assembly believe that the erroneous words spoken, together with the subsequent action of the Honourable Member Juan Edghill, are violative of the privilege of a member of the National Assembly and of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly; and have brought the entire National Assembly into disrepute. We preserve that this House expresses its disapproval of the false statements made by the Honourble Member Juan Edghill and refers the matter to the Committee of Privileges to consider and recommend to the House an appropriate response,” the parliamentarian stated.
This motion, which was seconded by Government’s MP Jermaine Figueira, was upheld by House Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, who sent the matter to the Privileges Committee. “I have received that complaint and this matter will now be sent to the Committee of Privileges,” the Speaker declared.
The Speaker then turned his attention to a letter he received from Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who asked that Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman issue an apology over statements made in relation to Guyana’s productive forests. She is also seeking the same from Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo who repeated Trotman’s statement.
During the 2016 Budget Debates earlier this year, Trotman announced that 100 per cent or all of the country’s productive forestry was distributed under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime.
Trotman sought to defend his statement, noting that the figures he quotes in his Budget presentation were the figures submitted by the Guyana Forestry Commission on allocations of forest lands and those held in reserve.
“It was this document that I both relied on, and quoted from, during my budget presentation on Thursday February 11, 2016, and also shared copies with members of the Opposition who demanded copies to be shared,” he stated. Trotman provided these documents to the House.
Moreover, the Natural Resources Minister outlined that contrary to reports, his comments did not affect Guyana’s relations with its Norway partners, referring to a recent correspondence from the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, who congratulated him for being transparent.
Furthermore, he asked that the Prime Minister be exempted from the action brought since he (PM) merely repeated a statement that was initially made by him. In fact, he said the Opposition MP instead should be sanctioned for the accusations levied against him.
“In the circumstances, I respectfully submit that neither the Honourable Prime Minister nor I, should be called on to apologise or have this spurious compliant referred to the Privileges Committee. On the contrary, I respectfully submit that the Honourable Gail Teixeira who should be sanctioned for abusing the process of the August National Assembly by bring an obviously spurious and vexatious allegation before you,” he remarked.
However, the Opposition Chief Whip pointed out that figures on the Guyana Forestry Commission’s website reflects otherwise as she reiterated calls for Trotman to be sent to the Privileges Committee.
“I am calling on you that we send Mr Trotman to the Privileges Committee based on his own utterances today (Wednesday)… the statements that he has given here today contradicts what is on the Guyana Forestry Commission,” she posited.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nagamootoo in brief remarks opined that the minority Opposition is trying to counter one member (Edghill) being sent to Privileges Committee by alleging Government MPs are misguiding the House and the public.
In an effort to bring to end the back and forth exchange between Teixeira and Trotman, Dr Scotland pointed out that if Teixeira remains unconvinced by Trotman’s explanations and is still determined for him to be sent to Privilege Committee, then she can submit her pleadings in a complaint to him; however, he added that if she is prepared to accept the documents from the Trotman then she can do so to bring an end to the matter.
Teixeira is yet to reveal her decision, that is, whether she will stand with her initial position or accept Trotman’s explanation.