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|Constitutional crisis referred to by Speaker emanated in Parliament- AG|
|Sunday, 10 June 2012 21:02|
- Gov’t move for judicial review seeks to remedy constitutional sabotage
ATTORNEY General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, said that the opposition’s move to use its majority power by way of a vote, to deny constitutional agencies financial resources to function is tantamount to constitutional sabotage.
Speaking on a National Communications Network Programme, Minister Nandlall said, “One would expect that constitutional comity would have dictated and that the National Assembly would have discharged its responsibility in such a manner to ensure that other constitutional agencies have the resources which are necessary to run their affairs.”
Misuse of power
“The framers of the constitution would never have contemplated that the power which is reposed in the National Assembly would be used in a manner like this,” he stated.
He said that this is clearly a contravention of the constitutional doctrine and structure, noting that neither the Parliament nor the judiciary’s budget was cut, only the executive.
On June 4, the Attorney General moved to the High Court for a judicial review of the opposition’s close to $21B cut to the 2012 national budget.
Even though he could not have divulged details about the matter, he explained that the proceeding currently pending in the court is a constitutional action, which challenges the legality of the move by the National Assembly to reduce funds allocated by the Finance Minister for the fiscal year 2012.
The National Assembly took upon itself the power and responsibility of proposing its own sums, which was passed by the one-seat majority opposition.
“When one looks at the Constitution of our country and one examines its structure…the National Assembly fell into serious constitutional error and abrogated several constitutional doctrines in doing what it did,” he said.
Guyana is declared to be a democratic state; its constitution is built on the separation of powers. This doctrine divides constitutional responsibilities into three compartments; the executive, judiciary, and the parliament (legislative).
Under this constitutional structure, each compartment is assigned specific and clearly defined functions. Further, in the discharge of their delineated functions, each enjoys functional autonomy.
However, an exceptional amount of independence is imbued to the judiciary since it is the branch of government which is assigned the exclusive responsibility of reviewing the actions of others to ensure that they act reasonably and in conformity with the laws of the country, but most importantly, that they act in the manner contemplated for and provided by the Constitution which created them.
“Although the court has the overriding responsibility of being that forum to which you can complain about conduct and affairs in the Parliament…it can only go to a certain extent. The jurisdiction of the courts is to review the conduct of the Parliament to see that it functions in the way that the Constitution intended it to function…and that is the jurisdiction which this action has invoked,” the AG explained.
The Constitution also created a series of offices, including the Cabinet, Defence Board and the Guyana Elections Commission. These agencies are expected to be imbued and endowed with the necessary resources to discharge the functions which the Constitution has ascribed to them.
The responsibility over the country’s finance has been given by the Constitution to the executive. As such, when the Finance Minister presents the national estimates of Guyana to the Parliament, he does so as a designate of the President (the head of the executive). The National Assembly on the other hand, has a role to approve the estimates.
“The National Assembly went way overboard when they did what they did in the last budget. They counter-proposed and their counter-proposal was passed, so several constitutional wrongs, in my view, were committed. They have usurped the functions of the executive…only the President’s designate can counter-propose. So in essence, the National Assembly, as opposed to the executive, passed the budget for those agencies,” Minister Nandlall said.
Responding to Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, who, in a press release, stated that the executive’s move to challenge the cuts could lead to a constitutional crisis, Minister Nandlall said that the crisis was generated in the National Assembly.
“The executive’s move to the court is an attempt to find a solution to a constitutional crisis which emanated from the body over which the Speaker presides. All I am doing is going to another constitutional organ that has the power, responsibility, duty, independence, and jurisdiction to remedy what is described as a constitutional crisis,” he clarified.
On June 7, the matter was called in the Chambers of Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang, but was adjourned to July 3, giving the opposition three weeks in which to prepare submissions on why the Interim Order applied for should not be granted to the government.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 10 June 2012 21:07|
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