'We will not be rushed'
Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
The Government has scoffed at demands from the opposition People's National Party (PNP) for Parliament to resume sittings by next week.
"We will not be rushed," was the Government's curt response yesterday to the Opposition's call for the House to resume sittings well before the January 19 schedule.
"The parliamentary Opposition is not going to push this Government to rush matters that are sensitive at a time when the world is facing an economic crisis that we have not seen before," Daryl Vaz, information minister, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"The Opposition needs to understand that there can only be one government at a time, and this government is doing all that it can to weather the storm," Vaz added.
He said after the Cabinet meeting on Monday, the leader of opposition business in the House of Representatives, Derrick Kellier, was informed of the date for the scheduled resumption of Parliament, and yesterday's 'mock parliament' by the PNP was designed to create "hysteria and disruption that the country cannot afford at this time".
According to Vaz, there was no way the Government could resume sittings of the House earlier, because Cabinet had scheduled a four-day retreat starting tomorrow to deal with matters affecting the economy, chief among which will be the status of the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He said other matters which will be high on the agenda for this weekend's retreat will be the Government's medium-term economic programme, the 2010-2011 Budget, the debt-management programme, the status of the public-sector transformation programme, as well as Government's legislative agenda.
"We want to ensure that when Parliament meets we will be in a position not only to debate the tax measures, but to provide the country with a full update on all economic matters," said Vaz.
He told The Gleaner that following the prime minister's address to the nation on December 23, when the revised tax package was announced, permission was given for the Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Dr Omar Davies, to be briefed on several matters, including some of which were of a very sensitive nature.
Vaz said since that time the technocrats have been working overtime to complete the letter of intent for the IMF, which should be ready this week, and the debt-management programme.
"We would have no time to go to Parliament before the scheduled date," Vaz argued.