Ministers in Parliament undermine accountability – US report

first_imgThe report which was recently completed for review by USAID or the United States Government has found too that in Guyana’s politics and affairs, “the National Assembly itself does not play an effective oversight role.” The report also highlighted that there is now evident fractures in the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) government.The Tetra Tech ARD group contracted to prepare the report, found that since MPs are “answerable to their parties and not to voters, given the use of party lists for elections, MPs toe the party line.”The report pointed to the fact that in Guyana’s political system, Ministers of Government are also required to be MPs, “further reducing the separation of powers and undermining checks and balances…Thus, the Assembly is often referred to as a rubber stamp.”Pointing to the deep-seated political divisions that exists on the local landscape, the USAID report said, “an effective opposition veto of government legislation as well as the president’s non-assent to opposition-initiated legislation during the 2011–2014 Assembly created a political impasse that was not surmountable through negotiations and compromise, and which was what led to the early dissolution of the Assembly and elections in 2015.”The report has documented that now the coalition has a one-seat majority in the Assembly, the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is claiming that the government is flouting parliamentary rules.It points to the introduction of legislation by Government and voting in the same session, making it impossible for the Opposition to review the bill and to have a meaningful debate.FracturesThe report did find that, “Broadly speaking, the 2015 election results suggest to many observers an opportunity for change… The APNU+AFC ran in the 2015 elections as a coalition, on a reform agenda that includes constitutional reform.”The USAID report cautions however, “The extent of the intended reforms varies depending on whom is asked; according to senior party officials, everything is on the table, including the electoral system and parliament.”It said the coalition is a multi-party, multi-ethnic group, which may signify another shift in Guyanese politics away from ethnicity towards more issue-based politics, “however, fractures in the coalition are evident.” … MPs forced to “toe the party line”, not answerable to votersThe presence of Ministers in the National Assembly can serve to undermine established checks and balances; Members of Parliament (MPs) are not answerable to the voters and must ‘tow the party line’.The blistering findings are contained in a report funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance in Guyana.last_img

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