Fri | Jun 2, 2023

15-minute parliamentary sitting

Lawmakers make swift exit while raft of motions remain unaddressed

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2023 | 1:47 AM
Edmund Bartlett
Edmund Bartlett

LAWMAKERS SPENT 15 minutes in Parliament yesterday after dealing with a single legislative matter.

The legislators showed up at Gordon House to facilitate the tabling of regulations governing the states of public emergencies in Clarendon and St James.

Leader of government business in the Lower House, Edmund Bartlett, said that members showed up yesterday to ensure that the business of the house is carried out.

Bartlett told his parliamentary colleagues that the Sectoral Debate will resume next Tuesday when there will be three contributions.

Speaker of the House, Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, adjourned the sitting at about 2:15 p.m.

However, while the lawmakers were sent home early yesterday, the Order Paper for May 24, 2023, contains a raft of private members’ motions that have been tabled for months and in some instances years, but are yet to be debated.

With the official start of the hurricane season just days away, a motion moved by Member of Parliament for St Andrew Western Anthony Hylton on November 3, 2020, is yet to be debated.

The motion speaks to the network of drains and gullies in the Corporate Area and throughout the country that have been in a deplorable condition for decades, owing to the lack of sustained maintenance and repairs.

He argued in the motion that the drains were not designed to handle increased run-off of storm water resulting from increased development of the physical infrastructure, and exacerbated by the frequency of heavy rainfall due to climate change.

He called on the house to debate the motion “with a view to finding creative solutions to the current problems of inadequate design, poor repair, and maintenance of the existing networks of drains and gullies throughout the Corporate Area, Montego Bay, and other towns”.

At the same time, leader of Opposition business, Phillip Paulwell, introduced a motion on April 27, 2021, dealing with the high cost of electricity for Jamaican consumers and businesses.

The motion, which is yet to be debated, also highlights the theft of electricity as a major component of the cost of electricity to legal customers.

The motion also called for Parliament to agree that it has a responsibility to address the high level of electricity theft and that the Economy and Production Committee of Parliament assess the recommendations coming out of the debate to address the problem.

Earlier this year, government backbencher Robert Montague introduced a motion calling on the house to “mandate that a suitable broad-based commission be established to examine the records and facts against the established standards for awarding national hero status and thus making a recommendation whether Chief Takyii should be awarded and declared a national hero”.

The Order Paper has a plethora of other motions moved mainly by Opposition lawmakers. The document also contains items under the caption of ‘Government Business’.

At a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness pledged to table in Parliament job descriptions for Cabinet ministers and members of parliament.

Loud calls have been resonating across the country for the government to roll back the massive increases approved for the political directorate. Many have also insisted that there should be a clear accountability framework by which the country can assess the work of parliamentarians and Cabinet ministers.