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Speaker rebuffs Opposition Leader’s appeal over write-offs

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019. 4:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Speaker of the House of Representatives Laura Longsworth has dismissed Leader of the Opposition John Briceño’s claims that his and other Opposition People’s United Party (PUP) members rights were violated when they were not allowed to debate on the five write-off motions which returned to the House from Committee on Friday, October 4.

She ruled that under Standing Order 23 (3), debate on each motion, including the controversial Joshua Perdomo motion for write-off of more than $40,000 owed in study payments due since 2011, should have taken place when they were laid by Prime Minister Dean Barrow during the House meeting on August 16th, a meeting at which Briceño was absent as he convalesced from a recent traffic accident.

The Speaker recalls, “When the Write-off Motions were moved by the Right Honorable Prime Minister on 16th August 2019, I looked on both sides of the Chamber and none of the Honorable Opposition Members rose to debate the Motions.” As the Prime Minister did not further move that the motions be passed in all their stages on the day of the meeting, they were referred to the relevant House Committee under S.O. 74(1).

In contrast, she notes, no less than ten members including those from the PUP spoke on the Taiwan US$50 million loan motion for the Corozal-Sarteneja road, which was passed through all its stages. When that motion came back from Committee, there was no additional debate and the motion was passed.

The Speaker concludes by recommending that he ask his fellow parliamentarians why they did not stand up to debate at the appointed time. Kareem Musa made brief references to the write-off motions in questioning the Government’s legal advice on the adjournment on October 4th. All the motions were approved at that meeting, the Perdomo motion by division, and theoretically did not need to go to the Senate the following Wednesday though there is no clarification on this. In the Senate all the motions except No. 2 were approved.

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