UNC MP Ganga Singh has defended his decision to break ranks with fellow Opposition parliamentarians and support passage of the pensions’ clause of the Miscellaneous Provisions Bill brought by Government at last Friday’s parliamentary sitting. The Chaguanas West MP had voted in favour of the clause at the committee stage.
The Miscellaneous Provisions (Tax Amnesty, Pensions, Freedom of Information, National Insurance, Central Bank and Non-Profit Organisations) Bill, 2019 was passed with amendments late on Friday night. The bill was passed with 21 members voting for while 16 members voted against it. There were no abstentions.
However, Singh was not present when the division of the vote was called by the Speaker. But in a statement today, Singh said his vote was a principled one saying this is similar to the stance which he had adopted when voting against the amendments to the Freedom of Information Act.
“It must be said that the same principle by which I supported the increased pensions for the President, judges and legislators was my guide in voting against amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. It has always been the way in which I conducted myself and carried out my public duties as a legislator and previously, a cabinet minister, and chief executive of WASA.”
He said the pensions’ clause addresses the small pensions given to a limited group of former legislators and judges, some of which he knew personally and whose lives “have become extremely difficult because of the small amount they now receive.”
“It would be unconscionable for today’s legislator to turn away from the silent suffering of former parliamentary colleagues on either side of the aisle. Equally, it is unconscionable that this is being done, apparently, in a vacuum and so many of our citizens are also suffering silently.”