24 September 2015: Transcript of Point of Order raised in the House this morning by NFP Leader, Hon Prof Biman Prasad

Please check against delivery. The Deputy Speaker is expected to make a Ruling on this Point of Order.

Honourable Deputy Speaker I rise on a Point of Order to seek clarification for you as to why Party Leaders namely the Honourable Leader of the Opposition and I were not allowed to respond to a statement made by the Honourable Minister for Finance regarding the Bond issue in Parliament yesterday.

I am aware that The Leader of Government Business moved for the suspension of Standing Order 11 (according to yesterday’s Hansard).

Standing Order 11 relates to 2nd and 3rd days of new Parliament or (first and second days of any subsequent sessions).

This Standing Order Deputy Speaker is specifically related to the address by His Excellency, for a motion to be moved without notice for an Address of Thanks to His or Her Excellency.

Nowhere in the Standing Order does it allow a Minister to make a statement, clarification or correct misrepresentation. The only thing a Minister may do is to give an hour’s notice to make a ministerial statement for 20 minutes following which 5 minutes is given to the party leaders to respond – which in this case is the Leaders of the two Opposition Parties.

The statement by the Minister for Finance was not even a personal explanation nor to correct misrepresentation of what happened in Parliament. And here Deputy Speaker I refer you to the ruling of the Madam Speaker of Monday 21st September disallowing me from correcting a newspaper report that had misrepresented what was actually said in Parliament on 27th August.

Even under Section 131 of Standing Order Deputy Speaker, which is on Government guarantees and loans, authorizing the Minister to present to Parliament information concerning particular loans or guarantees, is by way of a motion and is debatable, unless Section 145 of the Constitution is fully complied with.

In this case Deputy Speaker, the details provided by the Honourable Minister is not in full compliance of Section 145 of the Constitution.

Section 145 reads and I quote:

145.—(1) The Government must not guarantee the financial ability of any person or body in respect of a loan or otherwise unless the giving of the guarantee is authorised by Parliament in accordance with conditions prescribed by law.
(2) Parliament, by resolution, may require the Minister responsible for finance to present to Parliament, within 7 days after the resolution, information concerning any particular loan or guarantee, including all information necessary to show—
(a) the extent of the total indebtedness by way of principal and accumulated interest;
(b) the use made or to be made of the proceeds of the loan or the purpose of the guarantee;
(c) the provisions made for servicing or repayment of the loan; and
(d) the progress made in the repayment of the loan.

Honourable Deputy Speaker this was not entirely complied with by the Minister.

Therefore, the Statement by the Minister for Finance violates the Standing Order. It was made without notice – there is no provision for it; it was not a ministerial statement because the party leaders were not allowed to respond to it; and it did not fully comply with Section 145 of the Constitution and was not a motion – and a debate was not allowed.

We therefore seek your urgent ruling on this matter now.