Opposition senators cry foul during finance bill debate

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Damien Lyder –

TWO opposition senators claimed their contributions during a debate on the Appropriation Bill (Fiscal Year 2022) 2022 amendment, in the Senate on Friday, were restricted.

In his contribution, Opposition Senator Damian Lyder claimed that the government was offering nothing meaningful to the people in the bill. “The government has not been proactive.” As a businessman, Lyder said he recently had to beg a commercial bank for a paltry sum of foreign currency to complete a simple deal.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert repeatedly objected to issues raised by Lyder that were irrelevant to the debate or had been raised by senators before him. Senate Vice President Dr. Muhammad Yunnus Ibrahim supported Imbert’s objections. Ibrahim also informed Lyder that some of his comments were also raised by members of his own bench before him.

He declined Lyder’s appeal for additional speaking time. Ibrahim advised him to use his remaining time wisely rather than using it just to make objections.

Lyder complained that government and independent senators were given greater latitude in their contributions compared to opposition senators. Imbert asked if the opposition contested a decision of a presiding officer. He reminded senators that this was a contempt of Parliament.

Lyder eventually ended his contribution. Opposition Senator Wade Mark then reiterated Lyder’s claims that opposition senators’ contributions were limited in the debate.

“We cannot continue with this abuse of standing orders.”

Referring to Senate rules, Ibrahim told Mark that there was no basis for such an allegation.

Later in the session, Agriculture Minister Nigel De Freitas said the opposition had no one to blame except themselves if they were irrelevant.

“Elevate your content.”

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