By Adama Tine
The National Assembly Member for Wuli West, Sidia Jatta, has said that Permanent Secretaries cannot represent or speak on behalf of ministers when national matters are being discussed in parliament.
Jatta made this statement on Tuesday at the National Assembly during the commencement of the adjournment debate.
“We do not need people to come here to take notes. We are here to interact with the executive positively on policy matters. It must be established once and for all that we cannot do without ministers in this parliament particularly when we have motions on adjournment that must be established and put into practice; otherwise we will be running into problems,” he said.
He added that parliament will assume its responsibility to do what is necessary to ensure that ministers come there when “we request them to be here to address the issues raised by the lawmakers.”
Majanko Samusa, a nominated member, noted that members advocate for the presence of all ministers, “but it will be practically impossible to have all ministers here at the same time for us to address the issues surrounding the country’s development.” He argued that if NAMs want to have all ministers present, “we should change the system of parliamentary sittings.”
The Member for Niamina East Omar Ceesay pointed out that normally, the calendar of the session is circulated to all ministers and departments, arguing that they (ministers) must be aware of the Assembly’s sessions. He therefore argued that their absence is inexcusable. He added that even where it is not possible for all ministers to be present at the same time, he said at least a majority of them are expected to attend the session.
“We have been complaining for quite a long time, writing notes and nothing has been done,” he said.
Alagie S. Darboe, the Member for Brikama North said that when a government has plans, they are directed by policies of the nation and those policies are guided by the executive and the National Assembly. “So what the member for Wuli West is trying to emphasise is that parliament should work hand-in-glove with the executive on policies and direct our nation towards national development.
“Nobody is saying that all cabinet ministers should be present during the adjournment debate; and nobody will also expect all National Assembly members to be present during the course of the sitting as well,” he concluded.