Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation

The most credible news source in Barbados

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell (second from left) flanked by his press secretary and his Finance Minister Dennis Cornwall and Leader of Government Business Phillip Telesford, during the news conference on Monday (CMC Photo)

GRENADA: Gov’t describes boycott as“reckless”

November 13, 2023

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – The Grenada government Monday described as “reckless”, the decision of the main opposition New National Party (NNP) legislators to boycott a meeting of the Finance Committee of Parliament ahead of the presentation of the budget in December.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, flanked by his Finance Minister Dennis Cornwall, and the Leader of Government Business Phillip Telesford, told a news conference that it was unfortunate for the opposition to have boycotted the meeting.

“It is quite clear that they took a deliberate decision to boycott and not attend the Finance Committee meeting today. That is regrettable, we think it is actually reckless and an abandonment of their duties as parliamentarians and members of the Finance Committee and not to have their unput into the draft estimates which the law mandates must be submitted to the Finance Committee for review,” Prime Minister Mitchell told reporters.

He said that was necessary given that the budget would be presented on December 4, this year.

“We will press on, the budget will be presented by the Minister of Finance on the fourth of December. We will break for two days thereafter and the debates will begin two days after,” he said.

Earlier, in a statement, the Office of the Leader of the opposition, said that opposition legislators “have been forced to miss a crucial sitting of the Finance Committee of Parliament that was belatedly re-scheduled for today and with the consequent late serving of their required documents”.

It confirmed that the five opposition members will not be part of the Finance Committee meeting which will be used by the government to explain and justify allocation of funds for the 2024 Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure.

“The government side has insisted on the rescheduled date despite being informed that members, including the leader of the Opposition, will not be available on that date,” the statement said.

It said that the original scheduled date for the Finance Committee meeting was November 17, but it was reportedly brought forward to facilitate the travel schedule of multiple government members, including Prime Minister Mitchell.

But Telesford told reporters that the date was never cast in stone and that he had held phone call discussions with Deputy Speaker Clarice Modeste, up until “this morning …there was no indication that there was a stay away”.

She said to me in her own words at least three members will not be able to make it, and when I asked what about the other two, the phone went dead for a while and then she came back to say she had a  conversation with the clerk (of Parliament),” said Telesford, insisting that the government which came to office in June last year “is not in for stirring up instability”.

He also dismissed allegations that the appropriate documents for the meeting had not been served saying all committee members had received the same documents by email at the same time last week.

In its statement, the opposition had indicated that it was prepared to discuss a convenient date with the Government on which both sides are available “to conduct this very important meeting in preparation for the 2024 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure”

But the Finance Minister who is also the chairman of the Finance Committee, told reporters that under the regulations governing the sittings of the Finance Committee, a quorum consists of five members and as a result the meeting went ahead.

“We therefore were in our rights to conduct the meeting,” he said, adding that the draft expenditure had been approved and passed with some amendments.

Prime Minister Mitchell said that the government had received a letter from the Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell, “asking for the date to be rescheduled because he had another matter fixed for that day which he could not reschedule.

“No details as to what that matter was provided to the Leader of Government Business. The Finance Committee does not require the presence of the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition … and whether he chooses to attend or not is a matter for him.

“There had been no indication that the date was inconvenient to members of the opposition,” he added.

About The Author

Share this!