MPs to lose parliamentary concessions

first_imgWith the passage of the December 21, 2018 no-confidence vote against the Government several Members of Parliament will lose parliamentary concessions when parliament is dissolve for elections in March of this year.While questions were raised about efforts to delay the elections were a way of creating a way for these parliamentarians to reap their concessions, Guyana Times has learnt that several MPs will loses duty free concessions. Others have rushed to Parliament seeking to have their parliamentary concessions processed as quickly as possible.When contacted, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Issacs confirmed that new Members of Parliament (MP’s) are eligible for a parliamentary pension after three years in the National Assembly. It is also understood that parliamentarians become eligible for duty-free concessions every three years.After the May 2015 General and Regional Elections, Government members of the 11th Parliament were sworn in on June 10.According to sources, however, the 90 days deadline for fresh elections, which is due in March, will mean that some parliamentarians would lose their eligibility for new duty-free concessions. In order to facilitate elections, Parliament has to be dissolved and all new parliamentarians who were sworn-in in 2015 and were given a duty-free concession for the purchase of a vehicle do not become eligible again for another such concession until June 2019.In the case of Members of Parliament from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), they were not sworn in until August 17, 2015, and thus new parliamentarians from that side would also not be eligible if the timeline is kept.Unlike the coalition, however, the PPP has been solidly behind calls for elections to be held within 90 days regardless of the loss of their benefits.In an interview with this publication, political commentator Ramon Gaskin certainly did not discount the possibility that loss of these benefits could be one of the motives for the delaying tactics the opposition has complained about.“That could be one of the reasons,” Gaskin acknowledged during the interview. “That could be one of the reasons because there is no guarantee that some of them are going back as MP’s.”He reminded, however, that a lot more is at stake for the coalition party than the loss of parliamentary concessions. According to Gaskin, none of the political parties with the exception of the PPP appears ready for early elections.“The main reason they might want to stall, in my opinion, is that they’re (coalition party) not ready to go to the polls. The only party that appears to me to be ready and already campaigning is the PPP. The rest of them aren’t ready yet,” Gaskin posited.“The AFC (Alliance For Change), of course, was badly beaten (at Local Government Elections). (Former Speaker of the House Ralph) Ramkarran’s party is now getting started. The Liberty and Justice Party (is just starting). Although the (People’s National Congress) is a big party, the last LGE showed they’re not so highly mobilised and organised to bring out voters.”The no-confidence motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition – People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C) – succeeded when Charrandas Persaud, a former AFC parliamentarian, broke ranks and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.With the Government’s defeat, the next steps are spelt out in the Constitution of Guyana. Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”Meanwhile, clause 7 goes on to state that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”Government has gone from promising to respect the vote to denying the vote’s validity on grounds that include an argument that 34 should have been a majority vote in 65. A court case was subsequently filed seeking, among other things, a stay of the elections pending a ruling. However, the court pulled this rug from under the State’s feet when it decided to expedite the cases.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has already warned that if elections are not facilitated within 90 days and there is no parliamentary agreement to extend this time, Guyana will have in place an unconstitutional Government.Indeed, it is still unclear when elections will be held. The President is responsible for calling a date for elections. President David Granger is yet to do so and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been accused of being complicit in stalling the process.last_img