The opposition’s performance in terms of legislation advanced has been uninspiring
Today, nine weeks since the National Assembly last met, marks the official end of the recess of the first session of the 10thParliament following the November 28, 2011 elections. It is a good time then to assess the Assembly’s productivity in terms of the legislation it has addressed, arguably its principal function.
This is how the situation looks.
I understand that the AFC had lodged with the Clerk of the National Assembly two Bills similar to two tabled by the Government. I further understand that the Office of the Attorney General decided to Gazette the two tabled by the Government.
The sole Bill tabled by the APNU is in the name of frontbencher Ms. Volda Lawrence and deals with the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly, a matter not previously identified by APNU as a high-priority issue. Since this position is provided for in the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, I do not treat the Bill as substantive legislation. Nor have I treated as substantive legislation the re-tabling of a Deeds Registry Authority Bill by Mr. Anil Nandlall, Attorney General with many of the defects and warts of its 1998 predecessor.
Only one of the Bills dealing with a substantive matter has made it into law. That Bill contains a mere three sections.
Several months after one of APNU’s leaders had announced on Plain Talk that the partnership’s legislative agenda was being finalised and would be shared with the public, Mr. David Granger is quoted in the press as stating that the APNU was seeking international help in legislative drafting.
The report did not indicate whether the agenda had been completed or whether the partnership’s decision to seek international help was because of a lack of confidence in, or success with securing the assistance of, drafting expertise which is available locally.
The AFC has similarly made no announcement of the status of its legislative and parliamentary agenda while the Government, no doubt emboldened by the unthreatening role of the parliamentary opposition in legislative matters, will try to clog up the Assembly’s agenda with ad hoc, inconsequential matters. It says something that the Government, other than when it wanted money, has probably spent more energy in the courts than in the National Assembly.
Other than four of the ten regions in which the opposition parties have a majority, the National Assembly is the only real lever of power at their disposal. And even acknowledging the parties’ success over the budget cuts – many of which they no sooner voted to restore – their performance in terms of legislation advanced has been far from inspiring.
Yours faithfully, Christopher Ram