By Aji Fatou Faal
The National Assembly member for Wuli East Sidia Jatta has reminded ministers that appearing before lawmakers is not voluntary, but an obligation.
The Wuli East NAM was speaking at an adjournment debate of the First Ordinary Session of the 2018 Legislative Year at the assembly chambers in Banjul.
According to the lawmaker, there is no need for him to remind the ministers of these obligations because it is clearly stated in the Constitution of the Republic.
“Why this is necessary is because it provides an occasion for the ministers, cabinet and the legislature to put their heads together with a view to shaping their policies,” the Wuli NAM said. “This is the fundamental reason why ministers are obliged to come to parliament particularly when they have an adjournment debate”, he pointed out.
He warned that unless these ministers respect their obligations, he will revert to taking a different stand.
“I will never ever speak again during an adjournment debate if there is no minister,” he stated, adding that “and if there is a minister, I will talk only on matters relating to his or her portfolio, finished.”
The Speaker of the House, Mariam Jack-Denton, said she shared concerns of lawmakers, especially during adjournment debates.
“It is unfortunate,” the speaker regretted, “but we will keep on trying and would work out for a mechanism whereby we will ensure that all of them are here present. Nevertheless, we did give them the calendar well ahead. We will not relent until at least we get the majority of them to be present here during these debates”.
However, the Speaker recognised and acknowledged the presence of Justice and Energy and Petroleum ministers during adjournment debates.
Meanwhile, the hard-talking NAM, Sidia Jatta, took time to speak on the proposed nullification of the import duty on rice, which he said has a strategic reason.
“Fundamentally, the objective is to beat down the price on rice because the buying per population is very high but since that decision was enacted in this parliament it should have been implemented by now because they have three months since then.”