News on Sunday

National Assembly: 2016: A rollercoaster ride

The National Assembly is adjourned for Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 11.30 am following the last sitting of 21 December 2016. The first session of the sixth National Assembly starting from 29 March 2016 to end on 21 December 2016 included 40 sittings divided in two distinct parts – 29 March to 1 September and from 15 November to 21 December. 30 Acts have been assented and gazetted including the Prevention of Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2016 assented on 16 December and gazetted on 17 December and the Police (Membership of Trade Union) Act 2016 assented on 2 December and gazetted on 3 December 2016. These two Acts come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.

It should also be noted that during this year’s session the Leader of the Opposition put 32 Private Notice Questions (PNQ) to the Prime Minister of which two were not taken; the first put to Sir Anerood Jugnauth was on Dayal – 29 March following an allegation of corruption brought forward by one Patrick Soobany. 1,250 Parliamentary Questions were registered at the Clerk’s Office but that 1,082 were answered by Ministers. The majority of questions were put by members of the Opposition with Rajesh Bhagwan heading them all with 77 questions followed closely by Ameer Meea with 76 questions. Others are Reza Uteen with 75 questions, Franco Quirin with 62, and Veda Balamoody with 60 questions.

The Champions

While many of the buoyant and restive members were being reprimanded by Madam the Speaker some made themselves known for their silence at the National Assembly. The champion of them is no other than Patrice Armance of the PMSD who took part in debates and made speeches of not more than 10(ten) minutes, one minute more than in 2015 when he talked for nine minutes. Others are Alain Aliphon – 12 minutes; Gowharan Oree – 15 minutes, Teeluckdharry – 17 minutes; Maneesh Gobin – 25 minutes; Bashir Jahangeer – 30 minutes. The record holder among the Parliamentary Permanent Secretaries is Rajcoomar Rampertab with 15 minutes of talking during debates followed closely by Thierry Henry with 20 minutes. The Minister who made himself heard the least is Yogida Sawmynaden with 35 minutes of speech recorded.

The longest time recorded during debates is that of the Minister of Finance, Pravind Jugnauth with 7 hours 51 minutes followed by the Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth with 6 hours and 15 minutes. The PPS involved fully in debates is no less than Buisson Leopold with 2 hours 20 minutes and the member of the House who talked longer than his comrades during debates is Alan Ganoo with 7 hours 25 minutes.

Historical end of year sitting

The two last sittings of the National Assembly on 20 and 21 December will remain a landmark in the history of parliamentary debates. While two of the three constitutional amendments were passed and voted, government met fierce defiance from one of its main alliance members, the PMSD, who resigned on 19 December with the presentation of the Prosecution Bill. On 20 December the leader of the Opposition, Paul Bérenger resigned and was replaced the same day by Xavier Luc Duval as he has a larger number of elected members. Both the MMM and the PMSD were absent on that day and the Prime Minister brought forward an amended agenda for the day with the Prosecution Bill postponed for debates at the next session of 2017.

The Leader of the House presented the Non Citizens (Property Restriction) Act and the Sugar Industry Efficiency Act was presented by the Minister of Agro-Industry while the Sports Bill was read for a first time by Minister Saymynaden.

Questions put by members of the Opposition were answered by Ministers and Acting Ministers replacing those who resigned which brought opposition from Shakeel Mohamed. Sir Anerood Jugnauth explained that they could do so as the President of the Republic has been informed of the changes.

On 21 December there were changes on the front bench of Government with Ivan Collendavelloo jumping the queue to become No 2 fuelling rumours that Shawkutally Soodhun, No 3 until the resignation of Xavier Luc Duval, was not happy, the reason why he was absent during debates.

The Sports Bill was passed and voted with discontent on the side of Shakeel Mohamed who protested that his name was not on the list of speakers to intervene on the issue. He was so loud in his remarks that he was ordered out by the Speaker. If he was followed by his colleagues the PMSD and the MMM remained to take part in debates on the Sports Bill which was voted with amendments.

The parliamentary session started on 29 March 2016, birthday of the Leader of the House, Sir Anerood Jugnauth. Works ended on 21 December again in his absence. Thus there was no summing up of parliamentary works which last year was done by Showkutally Soodhun. This year it is the No 2 of the government bench, Ivan Collendavelloo, who presented good wishes to members, the Speaker and the President of the Republic and adjourned the House for 28 March 2016.

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