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Saturday, September 30, 2023

‘Answer the Questions’: The Government Is Dodging Accountability

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The government’s attempt to yet again delay the Question period is an attempt to dodge questions.

Wednesday was set aside for the Opposition to ask the government pressing questions as designed for the 2nd Wednesday of every month. But Leader of Government Business O.B Wilchcombe, decided to go through the motions of laying bills on the table instead, although he promised Opposition members on Tuesday that he would go forward with the session.

His attempt to defer questions to February 20 and Speaker Patricia Deveaux’s attempt to adjourn the House until then, is a brazen dodge to be held accountable.

“Let’s stay in the House and do the people’s work,” a fiery Pintard protested.

“Why waste time? Why are you not honoring your word?” he questioned from the other side of the House.

Opposition members have been seeking answers to questions for some time now, and were hoping to put forth questions on Wednesday during the Question period. Among the questions were:

  1. Will the government provide all expenses, receipts, and donations toward the trip to Bermuda that was made by Prime Minister Davis and the delegation to attend the convention of the Progressive Labour Party?
  2. Can the Minister with responsibility for Housing confirm the purpose why Bahamians were evicted from the domes in Abaco?
  3. When will the government disclose the amounts paid out to the Financial Secretary and others to settle cases of matters related to administrative leave and redeployment?

The House of Assembly rang out with chants of “Answer the questions” as Pintard and opposition members banged on the desk and held up a folder containing eight pages of questions prepared for the session.

Deputy Leader Chester Cooper though, proceeded with tabling the government’s bills amidst the commotion and protest as Deveaux led the charge before the House was adjourned to Feb 20th.

The ‘Question and Answer Period’ holds the government accountable and the government must commit to being answerable to the people.

The exercise is to glean information that the executive may not want to reveal to the public.

It should be a key part of our parliamentary democracy.

The government should be moving toward more transparency and accountability. We demand accountability from our elected officials. Knowing what our legislators are doing in our name is a cornerstone of our democracy.

The government needs to stop trying to skirt and hide its actions from the public.

 

Photo credit: The Tribune

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