By Caribbean News Global contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) and Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition leader Kamla Persad Bissessar has condemned the cowardly move by the prime minister Dr Keith Rowley and his administration to hastily end the budget debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, without the contribution of almost half of the Cabinet of ministers, including prime minister Rowley.
“This is the second consecutive year that the Rowley administration has chosen to unilaterally end the budget debate without contributions from key ministers and members of parliament,” the opposition leader said in a statement.
“Conventionally, members of parliament on both sides of the House are duty-bound by precedent, in the very spirit of their Oath of office to account in a budget debate to citizens. All members of parliament traditionally account to their constituents about the work they have done in the nation’s 41 constituencies, and the work they intend to do in the upcoming year.
“Opposition members of parliament also usually raise crucial issues of governance on behalf of citizens, in the time-honored expectation that the government members of parliament would give relevant answers.
“Government members of parliament are also expected to account to citizens about how they have spent taxpayers’ dollars in the previous fiscal year, and how they intend to spend the monies allocated in the US$52 billion budget in the upcoming fiscal year”, opposition leader Bissessar said.
Twelve out of twenty-three government members of parliament including several ministers of government holding key portfolios refused to contribute to the debate. These include ministers in charge of some of the most crucial sectors of our society, such as national security, energy, labour, planning, and social development.
The reasonable conclusion Bissessar said: “Is that the Rowley government’s despotic scuttling of this year’s budget debate was clearly done to avoid the prime minister and his senior Cabinet ministers answering to the damning allegations of blatant corruption against their administration, as well as their sheer incompetence, wilful mismanagement of the economy and failure to adequately manage other key sectors of the country, in particular, crime, joblessness and poverty.”
“By his cowardly refusal to account to his employers—the taxpayers of Trinidad and Tobago, and by his new trend of shunning and wilfully abandoning his prime ministerial and parliamentary duties; prime minister Rowley is in violation of the spirit of his respective Oath of office to both the citizens of this country and his constituents of Diego Martin West”, Bissessar said.