Today, the Government continued its attempts to stifle the Opposition, by moving to reduce the speaking time of Members during today’s sitting of the House of Representatives.
While the Government brings Bills to the Parliament that are not urgent and are of dubious value, and again extended the time for Ministerial and Prime Ministerial statements, Members of the Opposition are being stymied in their efforts to raise the issues that concern people.
In spite of this, the Opposition continued to fight for the thousands of citizens who are faced with increased burdens and economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Today, the Opposition utilized all possible Parliamentary mechanisms to demand answers as to government spending and plans.
In an effort to seek clarity and accountability, Opposition Members of Parliament submitted 18 Urgent questions which centred on the following issues –
· Rate of testing of citizens for Covid-19
· Pandemic Leave and protection for workers
· Measures to reopen the economy
· Provision of food cards and other relief for vulnerable citizens
· Support for small businesses affected by the economic crisis and
· Support for students hampered by the crisis.
While only five (5) urgent questions were allowed, the Opposition was able to expose the Government’s total absence of any plan to alleviate the suffering facing people and their incompetence and ineffectiveness in providing help to citizens so that they can deal with the impact of the current crisis.
The Government’s scattershot approach towards this crisis thus far led to three of our Opposition Members of Parliament filing requests to adjourn the House to discuss Definite Matters of Urgent Public Importance centred around economic recovery, education as well as the international claims of fuel being transported from Trinidad and Tobago to Venezuela.
It was quite unfortunate that none of the three matters was allowed, further contributing to the prevailing uncertainty, however the most detrimental of them all was the refusal to debate “the Government’s inability to adequately prepare and provide for the continued education of our nation’s students at all levels of the education system”.
From the very start of this pandemic the Opposition called out the government’s failure to be proactive to prevent the destructive repercussions we see occurring today and as a result, we filed Matters on the Adjournment to debate “the failure of the government to adequately and appropriately prepare and provide for the Covid-19 Pandemic.” as well as a motion on “the need to take immediate steps to address the economic consequences of COVID-19 for citizens, small and medium businesses as well as the economy”.
The crisis facing citizens who are going without food, losing hope and having their way of life destroyed is dangerous to the future of our nation. The United National Congress will continue to fight and utilize all Parliamentary mechanisms to ensure that the best interests of our citizens are served.