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Letter: Grenada Senate: Mockery or democracy?
Published on July 6, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

It has become of grave concern to the public at large, that Senate president, Chester Humphrey, is showing muscular bias to the opposition senators; by disallowing them the liberty to debate on diverse and pertinent issues of national importance in the Senate.

The president, in recent time, has taken on a classroom, straitjacket approach toward streamlining matters of so called “relevancy”, perceived or non- perceived, on important issues debated. There seems to be a deliberate and collusive move by the president of senate and the leader of government business in the house, Simon Steele, to stifle robust debate on the controversial, Global Petroleum Group (GPG) agreement, entered into by the NNP administration dated back since 2005. Similar action was taken by Mr Humphrey, when Senator Burke responded to the Gregory Bowen/Grenlec issue some months ago.

Twelve years have passed and no attempt was ever made by the administration to explain to the Grenadian people the nature and contents of this agreement. The Grenadian citizens have a right to know, to what extent the people of the nation stand to benefit from this GPG arrangement. The government should engage the people in consultation before any attempt to sign away Grenada territorial waters, in search for oil and gas reserves. This is what any transparent government will do on such a valuable and important matter.

This was the substantive point Senator Burke was making when he was woefully interrupted by Senator Steele at the last Senate sitting. A bill for a package of incentive by way of tax breaks, to benefit oil and gas investors, was laid before the house for passage. Yet for all, Senator Burke was disallowed to make reference to the only known investor, GPG, who is likely to be the first investor to benefit from the bill. How will these incentives connect with the current agreement and how Grenada stands to benefit? Are definitely questions to be answered?

The debate ended prematurely when, the president ruled against Senator Burke, even while the president himself was doubtful about the interpretation of the standing order, by his own remarks. Subsequently, the opposition senators walked out the Senate as a show of protest.

One must be reminded that, in a country like Grenada, where there is little or no opposition, it is often difficult to keep checks and balances on what government does. Already, there is no opposition in the lower house of parliament, which means the debate there is unfairly weighted. That aside, the robust debate in the Senate is what the public looks forward to; any attempt by the authorities to muzzle and frustrate the opponents, amounts to a serious threat to our democracy.

Finally, I call on Chester Humphrey to stop playing politics and maintain the fundamental rights and freedoms of the house and its members by encouraging constructive debates on all national issues as they affect the Grenadian people. Giving leisure time to Senator Garraway to utter nonsense, and rabble rouse for his political party cannot help Grenada. Hopefully, there should be some improvement at the next sitting, and stop treating honourable men and women like primary school students. This ought not to be so, Mr President.

Jerry Marryshow
Reads : 3265

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