Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, in his motion of censure on Friday against House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George, claimed she breached the Integrity in Public Life Act (IPLA) and called on her to apologise to the House.
“Today I tell the Speaker, having told us for five years to take a walk, the Speaker should take a walk. Take a walk on this matter alone.”
The motion was in relation to his attempt on April 27 to move a definite matter of urgent public importance on the sale of fuel to someone in Aruba which, allegedly, was rerouted to Venezuela in contravention of US sanctions.
On that day the Speaker ruled that the matter did not qualify under the standing order, but Moonilal in his motion said she failed to declare a possible conflict of interest – her husband Newman George is chairman of Paria – the company which sold the fuel.
On May 8, the Speaker under “announcements” rebuked and condemned Moonilal for reporting elsewhere on the matter. Moonilal, on April 28, wrote to US Ambassador to TT Joseph Mondello complaining about not being able to raise the issue in the Parliament. His motion on Friday said the Speaker committed a breach of the established rules of conduct and conventions of the House, brought the high and noble office into disrepute, and the House should censure her for her failure to act properly and impartially in the exercise of her office.
He said she is guided by the IPLA but she did not follow Section 24:1 (a) which states those under the act must conduct themselves in a fair and impartial manner.
“I submit to you that the Speaker did not conduct herself in a fair and impartial manner.”
He said the role of the speaker is to defend the rights of members and a speaker must be impartial. He said the issue of the alleged fuel sale was a “raging scandal” at the time and continued to be an issue.
“Paria is involved in something suspicious, dark and clandestine.”
He stressed, however, that the issue was not whether the matter should have been accepted or not, but the Speaker not recusing herself to avoid a perceived conflict of interest.
He said on the next two occasions she also failed to recuse herself.
On his letter to Mondello, Moonilal said any member can write to anyone under the constitutional right of freedom of expression.
He said if the Speaker or the Government felt aggrieved they could have moved a motion of privilege against him but, under the “guise” of an announcement, rebuked and condemned him in an uncivil, raw and obscene manner.
“She was complainant, judge, jury and executioner.”
Moonilal claimed this was the first time this was done in the history of TT and was “unparalleled” in the Caribbean. He also said the decision by a politician to write to anyone is a political decision and the Speaker should not get involved in politicking.
In the vote on the motion, all 17 government members present voted against and all 14 opposition members voted for. The motion was not carried.