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Senators spar over August sitting

Wednesday, August 20 2014

SENATORS yesterday sparred over the convening of the Parliament during what is regarded as the traditional vacation period, with Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj accusing the Opposition of not wanting to do the people’s business and PNM Senator Dr Lester Henry firing back that the claim was “mumbo jumbo”.

As the Senate sat to debate a package of financial sector reforms, Henry complained that the Senate was sitting in August.

“Thank you Mr President for allowing me to lead off the Opposition response to this Bill here today, a day when, I must say, I would rather not be here,” he said at the start of his contribution. “Of course the people’s work is very important and so on, but we also have to keep in mind that all over the world, Parliaments tend to take recess at this time of the year and we have to let it be known that we are not quite happy with the operation of the Government in bringing this Bill in the middle of August when many of us would have preferred to be with our families.”

In cross-talk, Government MPs, including Maharaj, accused the Opposition of not wanting to do the people’s work. Henry replied, “I think it is very disingenuous of the Government to try and say we don’t want to do the people’s work and all kinds of mumbo jumbo when they themselves would have been quite happy to have been on holiday and many of them are on holiday or are just recently rushing back from holiday.”

Maharaj objected to Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith, stating that the vacation sitting was irrelevant to the financial sector reform legislation.

Hamel-Smith ruled, “Senator Henry, I will allow you a certain latitude, but you do have to come to the point when you will debate the bill before us.”

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