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Sidia wants Ministers to attend adjournment debate

Jun 23, 2010, 11:10 AM | Article By: Alieu O. Jabang

Hon. Sidia Jatta, Member for Wuli West, has said that there is no need having the adjournment debate at the National Assembly since the rights and concerns of the people are usually absent in the course of the debate.

He also said the ministers who should have been always there to listen to the debate and issues raised concerning the various ministries, and respond immediately, are always not there, thus the members always speak to themselves.

He expressed his frustration about what he said is the wrong interpretation of the constitution, adding that this was the main reason why ministers refused to come to parliamentary sessions.

This has even contributed to the wrong analysis of our national budget, he further stated.  

Hon. Jatta was speaking at the National Assembly on Monday when contributing to the debate on the report of the Hon. Speaker Renner's visit to India to attend the Commonwealth Speakers Conference.

According to the opposition party MP, the Speaker in parliament is like the referee in football matches. Rules and regulations govern parliament as rules and regulations govern football matches, he said.

"Referees of football matches have two types of cards, a yellow card and a red card. Speakers also have yellow cards and red cards. They do have red cards and yellow cards, that's why they call you to sit down, if you go out of order," he said.

The Speaker does not only have red cards and yellow cards for members, but also for ministers and other government officials, as well as the President.

"And the way the parliament is depends on the way the Speaker is," he added.

"For almost two decades, this parliament exists and it has been limited in her functions to exercise scrutiny and oversight. How, why? Because of the refusal of ministers! Even though the fundamental law of the land obliges them to come here, they don't come," he stated.

Hon. Jatta said ministers have to be coming to the Assembly to listen during adjournment debate to issues raised concerning their various ministries.

He called on the National Assembly to do something about this, stating that "we are mandated to deal with that problem, but we are not dealing with it."

"If we go by the dictates of the constitution, for me there is a limit. Yes, we do exercise this as is vibrant here, but unless we have those people here on the ground, then we raise issues and they immediately react, because, when they react, we will have still more questions to ask."

"That's the ultimate way we can critically examine issues, and shape policies for the development of this country but we are not having that. And we should do something about it, because it is limiting our work," he added.

"In the first place, why do we have to have an adjournment debate? Because the people who mattered at the adjournment debate will not be here. We should be directly questioning and discussing with them during the adjournment debate.  And this is the time we help them on where the faults lie with their policies," the MP said.