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Senate passes bill on Petrojam takeover amid Opposition walkout

Senators Damion Crawford, Kamina Johnson Smith, Lambert Brown and Tom Tavares-Finson
 
A walkout by Opposition senators Friday afternoon cleared the way for the government to pass a bill to acquire Venezuela's 49 per cent stake in Petrojam without challenge.
 
The shares are owned by PDV Caribe which is controlled by Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA.
 
Debate on the Bill ended moments after Kamina Johnson Smith, Leader of Government Business in the Senate, made her opening presentation.
 
Opposition Senator Damion Crawford rose to address the House, noting to the President that "very little truth" had been spoken by Mrs Johnson Smith. 
 
Disgruntled with the statement, Senator Johnson Smith urged the the House President to direct Senator Crawford to withdraw the statement, arguing that he was either "imputing motive" or referring to his own Opposition colleagues.  
 
Senator Johnson Smith's comment in turn drew the ire of Opposition Senator Lambert Brown, who grew angrier after Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson refused to acknowledge his grouse. 
 
With the Senate President not budging, the Opposition side then walked out.
 
A disappointed Senator Tavares-Finson said what had happened was "a very sad moment for the function of the democracy and the Senate," however, "the business of the country must continue."
 
The government members then passed the bill.
 
Speaking with RJR News Friday afternoon, Senator Lambert Brown, said the Opposition had no choice but to walk out on the debate because they were disrespected and not given an opportunity to review the bill, which he said has implications for the constitution as well as foreign investments in the country. 
 
He said it is clear the government had not intended to have close scrutiny of the bill. 
 


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