Wednesday, 22 May 2013
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|AG: Opposition’s refusal to restore cut funds is violation of Court Order|
|Sunday, 12 August 2012 00:13|
DURING the final sitting before the first recess of the 10th Parliament, the opposition benches, with a one-seat majority, refused to approve Financial Papers 1 and 2 of 2012, submitted by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.
The two financial papers, totalling more than $1.5B and $12.1B respectively, presented the House with another opportunity to restore the funds that were cut from the 2012 national estimates.
However, the Alliance For Change (AFC) and A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) again voted against provisions for agencies that fall under the Office of the President, such as the Government Information Agency (GINA) and the National Communications Network (NCN), both of which were allocated a mere dollar from the 2012 budget, the Office of the President and the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU).
According to Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on Thursday night during a break in proceedings, “The opposition said at the time when they cut the budget -- and even thereafter, through the mouth of the Opposition Leader himself, and several other members -- that we should bring it back and then we can reconsider it, once additional information is given.”
He observed that the sums were on Thursday brought back to the National Assembly for approval and were again rejected. Said the minister, “In addition to bringing it back, we have in support of our position now the ruling of the Chief Justice.”
He went on to explain that on July 18, in a preliminary verdict, Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that the cuts to the national budget are unlawful and unconstitutional, “and pointed out very clearly that the power resides with the Finance Minister to remedy the situation.”
He further stated that the CJ also pointed to various articles in the Constitution of Guyana that allow the Finance Minister the power and the authority to remedy the situation, depending on whether or not the minister forms the opinion that the situation warrants an intervention on his part.
Minister Nandlall said Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, acting upon the judgment of the CJ, has now brought to the House, “in pursuance of the various Articles of the Constitution that authorise him to do so, the requisite applications for the monies which were reduced and cut, and here again, in flagrant disregard of the ruling of the CJ, in violation of the judicial pronouncements of the CJ, the National Assembly, by a majority of one, has again rejected the budget, rejected restoring the cuts thereby violating the letter and the spirit of that judgment.”
The Legal Affairs Minister stated that the opposition “keeps violating the law, the Constitution, and the norms and traditions of Parliament. Now they have gone a notch higher, they are violating Court Orders and Court pronouncements.
“ In particular, the CJ specifically ordered that the sums which were cut from the Ethnic Relations Commission’s budget be restored immediately, because these are monies that are directly charged on the Consolidated Fund and therefore, do not require any form of parliamentary approval,” he stated.
“In light of this specific ruling, one would have expected that at a minimum, the National Assembly would have ensured that this specific order made by the CJ would have been obeyed. Unfortunately, they acted in complete disregard of this specific direction of the CJ. This type of contumacious conduct is not only contentious of the CJ’s ruling, but is an insult to the entire judiciary,” the AG further stated.
Meanwhile, Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira stated that the opposition’s move is a clear indication that they are not operating in good faith. “They say one thing and do another thing. They are constantly changing the goal posts. They have voted against a number of provisions. It is very clear that the opposition, in particular APNU is not acting in good faith,” she declared.
“This is the level of duplicity and capriciousness that is going on in the opposition in Guyana,” she added.
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