Debate on PPP/C confidence motion against gov’t unlikely before mid-December
-PM says no reasonable chance of success
The opposition PPP/C’s no-confidence motion against the government will not be debated in the National Assembly before mid-December, according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who maintains that it has no chance of succeeding.
“It is not a viable motion. It is a motion that is bred out of desperation… opposition frustration, by opportunism to look forward to the new wealth of Guyana and trying to destablise our beautiful country,” Nagamootoo said during a live stream on the Department of Public Information’s Facebook page.
During the 12-minute broadcast, Nagamootoo assured that the government has every intention to debate the motion and pointed out that it will not run away as the PPP/C did when he filed a no-confidence motion against its government in 2014.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo announced the filing of the motion on November 15th and he subsequently urged that it be debated before Monday’s presentation of the 2019 national budget.
Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs subsequently clarified that it is for a government to decide when a noconfidence motion will be heard.
“In my view, the day for the hearing of a no-confidence motion is determined by the Government and not by the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Guyana,” Isaacs said in a press release.
Seeking to dispel opposition claims that government does not want the motion debated, Nagamootoo on Friday stressed that government is “not running away” from the motion. “We are prepared for a discussion of any such motion but we believe that there are some issues that take precedence over such a motion,” he said, having noted the importance of the budget to the citizenry and their lives.
After making reference to a letter from Isaacs to the opposition explaining that the motion will not be considered until after the debate of the national budget and consideration of the estimates, Nagamootoo said that by his calculation, the debate would not be possible until after “the 15th or 16th of December or perhaps later.”
Noting that government has been advised by the Clerk that it is responsible for setting a date for the discussion of the no-confidence motion, he questioned its timing and he once again suggested that the opposition is incorrectly using the results of the local government elections, where it amassed 61% of the total declared votes, as a referendum on the government
Nagamootoo added that such an assumption not only misrepresents the notion of local government elections but is being used in an opportunistic way to suggest that the motion could in fact succeed.
“In this case, the PPP has moved a motion knowing that it has a minority of votes in the National Assembly. It is the government that has the majority,” he said, referring to government’s one-seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly.
According to Nagamootoo, on the surface of it, the no-confidence motion cannot succeed. “It is a no go. It is a no no and therefore you have an opposition saying now, ‘Look it is not that we want it to be approved. If it fails we succeed.’ What kind of logic is that? …You want psychologically to harass the Guyanese people. To use the no confidence motion to frustrate the work of the National Assembly,” he said.
Nagamootoo, an attorney, also stressed that the motion would fail if the votes are tied as passage requires a majority of the elected members of the National Assembly.
“The opposition doesn’t have that. It is the government that had 33 members who are elected and sitting in the National Assembly,” he stressed, before adding that despite this the opposition still wants the motion debated.
“This motion by the opposition has no reasonable prospect of any success in the National Assembly,” he added.
Nagamootoo, in denying the opposition’s claim that government is stalling the debate of the motion, also reminded of the PPP/C’s record in treating with the noconfidence motion he filed against its government.
He noted that he tabled such a motion on August 9th, 2014 and the government of the day refused to have it debated and instead then President Donald Ramotar subsequently prorogued Parliament, setting the stage for general elections. “He suddenly sent everyone home for six months and he never reconvened the National Assembly to debate my motion of no confidence,” Nagamootoo said, while adding that at the time then opposition held the majority.
“So we have a moral right to be able to put a motion because we were sure that such a motion could pass, [be]cause we had the majority of votes,” he said.
Responding to Nagamootoo on Friday, the PPP criticised him, saying that while he claimed the motion is an act of desperation and boasts that it would be defeated, he argued for a delay in debating it.
“As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: Nagamootoo should stop spouting hot air and bring on the NoConfidence Motion for debate earliest,” it said. “Despite all the “fat talk,” the truth is he is scared to death to do so. Instead, he parrots the Government’s position that the budget must be presented and debated first,” it added, while reiterating its call for the motion to be debated in the National Assembly at the earliest opportunity.
“We say to the Government, stop the grandstanding outside the National Assembly and come to the National Assembly to debate the Motion,” the PPP further said.
Jagdeo has claimed that the coalition government is damaging the country’s future prospects and has accused it of corruption and mismanagement. “Clearly people are unhappy with the direction of the country; [with the] policies and practice of government…. Government has no vision. We are drifting, they have absolutely no plan for Guyana. They are using up our money on frivolous things, such as celebrations, food and rentals [and] they are borrowing a lot. They are damaging our prospects for the future,” he said after announcing the motion.
If the motion passes it would require the holding of general elections within 90 days.