President of the Senate, Dr. Lawrence Joseph has refuted charges that he has been blocking Opposition Senators from asking questions in Parliament.
Dr. Joseph made the statement following reports carried in the August 30 edition of THE NEW TODAY Newspaper about Senator Franka Bernadine voicing frustration at not being able to get answers to questions placed before the Senate.
During the recent sitting of the Senate, President Joseph said he did not block Members from asking questions, but specifically prevented Sen. Bernadine from continuing a debate with regards to why her questions were not being answered.
“I as President, I’m saying that I never ever blocked Members from asking questions… I am telling the Honourable House and I hope that the House understands what I am saying, that on no occasion I blocked Members from asking questions. What I did on one occasion is to say that Members are not required to ask the questions word by word,” he remarked.
Sen. Bernadine pointed out that since the Senate Meetings of June 14, July 10 and August 21, she had made enquiries of the Government side with respect to the Managers who have been appointed to Statutory bodies and what these persons have been doing since the New National Party formed the government after the February 19 poll.
According to Sen. Bernadine, the former Minister of Education in the Congress government, she has not received any answers to the questions.
She made specific reference to Dr. Joseph taking the decision to halt a debate at the August 21 Senate Meeting based on time.
Sen. Bernadine complained that she was not given the time to respond to an issue raised by Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Sen. Kenny Lalsingh.
The female Senator told the Senate there needs to be a fair account of the cut-off time for Senators.
Sen. Bernadine charged that the lack of the answers to questions asked of members on the Government Side are of concern to the people outside the halls of the Senate.
On the adjournment of the Senate Meeting, Labour Representative, Sen. Raymond Roberts also voiced his frustrations over not having his questions answered.
Sen. Roberts stated that one of the questions sought to find out the salaries of Ministers and Back Benchers who are sitting in the Senate itself.
“I want to express my total disappointment … to the Leader of Government Business in the House (Kenny Lalsingh) who, undoubtedly, is the most experienced member in this Senate for the eight months life of this government it has failed to answer a single question from the Labour Representative,” he said.
Sen. Roberts slammed the attitude of the Government Members, describing their failure to present answers as a total disregard for the democratic process and the working people.
The Labour Representative indicated that since February, Sen. Lalsingh has been receiving a salary from government and he must be able to know salaries are being paid to Ministers and Backbenchers.
“I strongly challenge my Distinguished and Honourable friends on the other side to provide answers, not excuses, and I look forward to receiving all the answers at the next sitting of this Senate,” Roberts said.