GUYANA: MPs open Budget 2021 debates with insults and vulgarity

Speaker of the House Manzoor Nadir.

Senior Minister in the  Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, recently presented to the National Assembly and by extension the country, the largest budget it has ever seen.

During that presentation, the Senior Minister had disclosed the whopping $38.1B budget would catapult the country’s economic recovery, and improve the performance of critical sectors that were severely affected by COVID-19 shockwaves.     

All 65 parliamentarians had one week to study the budget estimates and were set to return to the National Assembly yesterday with their criticisms and observations regarding the policies and measures in the budget. As an elected official, one would naturally expect these individuals, both on the government and opposition sides, to behave with decency and proper etiquette. Moreover, it was expected that the discussions would have been at a high and respectable level as key measures in the budget were addressed.

However, what Kaieteur News witnessed in the dome of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) yesterday was the hurling of racist, homophobic, and sexist insults from one Member of Parliament (MP) to the other.

It started with the Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, who in his 35-minute presentation, outlined a slew of initiatives in the budget that are set to boost the management and productivity of the labour sector. Even though he had a functioning mic, Hamilton shouted his presentation across the room, and MPs from the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) shouted back, “Yuh getting hoarse, fadda, sit down!”

One of the louder Opposition MPs, Sherod Duncan, began hurling insults at Hamilton, and rather than proceeding with his presentation, the Minister shouted back, “And then you will have profanity from the lady that jumps out of a man’s body regularly!”

Third in the lineup of speakers was coalition MP, Geeta Chandan-Edmond. At the beginning of her speech, the Attorney-at-Law wished belated birthday greetings to Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall. But she did not stop there, as the MP took a jab at the childless AG by saying, “I am a proud mother of two children. All the credit goes to my husband.”

There were even homophobic insults hurled from one MP to another. In the first case, it was Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, who shouted to Minister Kwame McCoy, “I have a lil boy for you.”

Shortly after, MP Catherine Hughes, who had her ear phones plugged in for most of the beginning of the debates, shouted to Minister McCoy, “
Rainbow! Rainbow! Rainbow!” This is a known reference to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) flag.

The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Charles Ramson Jr., also joined in by insulting the opposition members by    calling them “political dunce”. Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, was heard telling opposition MP Ganesh Mahipaul that all he owns is his “bamzie,” after Mahipaul made accusations against Dharamlall’s ex-wife.

It did not stop there. During proceedings, it was indicated that the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, had recently lost her father. At one point, when Minister Teixeira was about to make an interjection, Mahipaul turned and shouted to her, “Why you don’t sit down and mourn yuh father!”

Later in the afternoon, it was Government MP, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo’s turn to present. He indicated to the assembly that in 2017, the Rehabilitation Department under the former administration requested an apparatus named a “medical chest vibrator.” This, the MP said, would assist those patients who were experiencing lung and post-stroke complications. “But the Minister bought this Mr. Speaker,” Dr. Mahadeo said, as he displayed to the assembly a vibrating dildo (a sex toy). It is unclear, however, how and where the former coalition government sourced this device, since the Laws of Guyana prohibit the importation of sex toys.

And where was the Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir? The Speaker was right there in the ACCC dome, presiding over the verbal and vulgar mudslinging, but failed to take control or upbraid the MPs for their behaviour.

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  • brandli62  On 02/24/2021 at 7:45 am

    Homophobic and sexists slurs in parliament? What a disgrace! The MPs for this behaviour should resign and apologise to the people of Guyana. They are not worthy representing them.

  • Sandy  On 02/25/2021 at 1:50 pm

    It’s no wonder that Guyana is such a lawless society with no respect for authority. What an embarassment!!!

  • Abigail Bernard  On 02/25/2021 at 2:32 pm

    What seriously? I’m laughing but it’s serious business

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