Bharrat Jagdeo’s benefits package…Amendments to relevant laws not retroactive-AG Nandlall
There has been a significant outcry in relation to a piece of legislation that was approved enshrining the ‘Benefits and Other Facilities’ due to former Presidents.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo had assented to the legislation when it was approved in the National Assembly during the course of the Ninth Parliament but the Opposition, which has a majority in this Tenth Parliament, had wanted it reversed.
The Opposition complained about the inability to properly quantify the amounts payable to former Presidents under the legislation. However, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, says that the legislation only enshrined in law benefits that were made available on a discretionary basis in the past.
The Opposition has already triggered a move to have the package reviewed in Parliament with a view to having the legislation amended.
Should this move by the Opposition prove to be successful, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall contends that none of the former President’s currently enjoying benefits under the arrangements would be affected.
These benefits cannot be reversed, argues Nandlall. He insists that laws made, are not retroactive.
Nandlall, in a brief interview with this publication yesterday, reminded that legislation in particular that deals with property and property interest such “as a pension cannot operate by law retrospectively,” in a manner that would adversely affect the person enjoying such a benefit.
He explained that such a move would affect vested fundamental rights that are protected by the Constitution of Guyana.
“It can have no retroactive and retrospective effect and therefore cannot affect in any manner form or fashion the pension for any former president.”
Asked specifically about the “benefits and other facilities” enjoyed by a former President, Nandlall said “in my view it is indivisible.”
He explained that “it is a package enjoyed by former Presidents and therefore one cannot sever it.”
According to Nandlall, the Constitution speaks to the remuneration of the President as well as terms of service and “that is secured while he holds office…Article 222 is clear that you cannot change or alter to the disadvantage of the office holder any of those terms and conditions of service that he enjoys including his remuneration.”
He said that in the case where such a President demits Office, the pension or a package “which he is to enjoy ex-post facto…then the same spirit and the same legal principal will apply and you cannot deny him that right or entitlement.”