Sidia Jatta insists that ministers must be present at the National Assembly

By Maria Lopes

July 7, 2021

The National Assembly Member for Wuli West has insisted that cabinet ministers must be present rather than permanent secretaries representing them or speaking on their behalf when national matters are to be discussed in parliament.

Sidia S. Jatta made the statement at the National Assembly on Tuesday before the commencement of the adjournment debate.

“We do not need people to come here to take notes; we are here to interact with the executives 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 are present when required of them, to address the issues raised by the lawmakers.

Majanko Samusa, Nominated Member, said that while members advocate for all the ministers to be present, it will be practically impossible to have every one of them in the house at the same time to address the issues comforting the country’s development.

He further stated that if the members want to have all the ministers present then the system of parliamentary sittings should be changed.

“I will not support the fact that [because] all the ministers are not around so the parliament will not move,” he added.

Omar Ceesay, member for Niamina East, pointed out that the calendar of every session is usually circulated to all the ministers and departments. “If that is the case, I believe the ministers must be aware of the very day the session is to take place, there is no room for any minister to say that he/she is not aware because the document was circulated.

“Even whereas it is not possible for all the ministers to be here, at least three-quarters of them are expected to be here to attend the session. We have been complaining for quite a long time writing notes and nothing has been done,” he noted.

On his part, Alagie S. Darboe, Member for Brikama North, pointed out that when the government has plans, they are directed by the policies of the nation and these 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 executives to guide on policies and direct our nation towards national development,” he clarified, while also emphasising that nobody is saying that all the cabinet ministers should be present during the adjournment debate, just as no one will expect all the National Assembly Members to be present throughout the course of the sitting. 

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