PR – Opposition MPs have been forced to miss a crucial sitting of the Finance Committee of Parliament tat was belatedly re-scheduled for today and with the consequent late serving of their required documents.
The Finance Committee meeting is perhaps the most important sitting of the year as it defines what comes into the national budget for the following year. The government side has insisted on the rescheduled date despite being informed that members, including the leader of the Opposition, will not be available on that date.
“When the sitting of the committee is compromised, it degrades any attempts at good governance and transparency,” says Deputy Speaker of the House of
Representatives Hon Clarice Modeste.
The Government side has refused the opposition’s request, made through an official letter by Hon Clarice Modeste – after a previously settled date for the meeting was brought forward by almost a week without any consultation with the opposition. Hon Telesford had informed members last week that the meeting was being brought forward, and while an agenda was presented in the notice, there was no document for MPs to prepare for the meeting.
“It compromises all members in terms of the quality of the input that we are all
required to make on the estimates of revenues and expenditure,” Hon Modeste
wrote in a letter to counterpart MP Hon Telesford.
The original schedule for the Finance Committee meeting was November 17, but
it was reportedly brought forward to facilitate the travel schedule of multiple government members, including Prime Minister Hon Dickon Mitchell, who has just returned from Saudi Arabia, is scheduled to return to the region tomorrow, Tuesday, before he returns and jets off again to Doha later in the month.
Not only was the brought-forward meeting scheduled with no proper documents, but it also clashed with another schedule by the Opposition Leader, Dr Rt. Hon Keith Mitchell, which was arranged based on the original date for the meeting. The Opposition members have been preparing their activities based on the calendar of events prepared by the Government. When no response was received, Hon. Clarice Modeste was forced to write a second letter emphasising the Opposition’s concerns. “I write further to my letter of yesterday and yet again today, reiterating our concern about how sittings of the House of Representatives are scheduled without any consultation with the Opposition side of the House.”
Members of His Majesty’s Opposition are prepared to discuss a convenient date with the Government on which both sides are available to conduct this very important meeting in preparation for the 2024 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.