Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines. (FILE)
KINGSTOWN – A meeting of the House of Assembly was suspended on Thursday, after just a few minutes, without any of the day’s business being addressed.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves moved the suspension until next Thursday consequent upon the late arrival of Deputy Speaker Carlos James, who arrived about 30 minutes after the scheduled start of the meeting.
According to Gonsalves, the Speaker, Jomo Thomas, had also said that he would be late.
Soon after James called the house to order and said the prescribed prayer, around 10:30 a.m., Gonsalves rose and moved the suspension.
The Prime Minister said the late start of the meeting had nothing to do with the absence of Thomas, who had informed him that he would have been late for the meeting.
The prime minister said it is the duty of lawmakers to be on time for the meetings of Parliament, adding that if members would be late or cannot attend, it is their duty “to indicate to their leader, so that their leader can indicate to the House”.
“That’s how we share information. We know sometimes a professional might be at the court, somebody might be – a minister might be held up with a particular appointment, but this is the way we have done it always in the past.
“I want the public to join me so that we don’t condone lateness and ill-discipline and that we must share information, if, for one reason, we are – one or more is going to be late,” said Gonsalves.
“Every single member of this house is important. That’s why we are here. Mr Speaker, we can start early on Thursday, we have enough time to put our affairs in order,” he said, and moved the suspension until next week,” Gonsalves said.
Among other things, the meeting was scheduled to debate amendments to the Drug Possession of Misuse Act amidst the granting of licenses to private sector stakeholders and traditional cultivators as St Vincent and the Grenadines moves to establish a medical marijuana industry.
Leader of the opposition Godwin Friday shared his understanding of the development with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“Apparently, the speaker is in court, which, of course, is another issue as to what takes priority and then the deputy speaker was indicating that he was supposed to be here, he was notified, I am told, and it just didn’t happen,” Friday said. (CMC)