Jun 08, 2012 News Comments Off on AG now seeks Interim order, drops Conservatory order
– wants Finance Minister to take money from Contingency Fund
Attorney General Anil Nandlall yesterday informed the court that the government was no longer seeking a Conservatory order in the move to the courts to set aside the $20.9B budget cut. Instead it was applying for an interim order which would allow the Minister of Finance to withdraw monies from the Contingency Fund.
On Tuesday, Government, through Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon, had moved to the High Court by way of an ex-parte motion, which seeks to state that the National Assembly has no power to cut the annual budget.
Nandlall along with the Solicitor General Sita Ramlall, and Senior Counsel Ashton Chase are appearing for the government and Finance Minister Ashni Singh.
Attorneys at law Deborah Backer, Robert Corbin, Joseph Harmon, James Bond, and Khemraj Ramjattan are representing Opposition Leader David Granger and Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman.
Attorney General Nandlall, yesterday, told Kaieteur News that Chief Justice Ian Chang heard his application in Chambers. He said that he presented the arguments and was relying on the outlined constitutional structure.
The AG further told Kaieteur News that the National Assembly has the power to approve a budget which is presented by the Finance Minister. He said that inherent in that, is power to disapprove. However, Nandlall said that the National Assembly did not have the power to reject the Finance Minister’s estimates and replace those estimates with its own. He said that the opposition does not have the power to substitute its own budget and pass it.
Nandlall sought to explain that the interim order that he is seeking is one allowing the Minister of Finance to withdraw monies from the Contingency Fund.
Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday described the case as a disgruntled Executive seeking to bypass to get back the flow of funds which were voted in accordance with all due constitutional requirements. He said that the bypass mechanism is an interim court order. Ramjattan opined that the main purpose of this order is to permit the government to raid the contingency fund. He said that the entire process is misconceived.
The other parties were given up to July 3, to reply to Nandlall’s submissions, before the Chief Justice.
Dr. Luncheon in his motion noted that indeed, and admittedly, the National Assembly has an additional financial responsibility to approve expenditure as provided for in Article 120, but the same relates and is confined to expenditure connected with future offices to be constituted by the President.
The Cabinet Secretary said that none of the offices and entities which formed the subject of these proceedings are new offices; they are all existing offices; indeed, the express confinement of the power of approval to future offices fortifies the contention that no power is vested in the National Assembly by the Constitution to affect funding to existing offices, save and except, a power of complete disapproval as contemplated by Article 218.
Therefore, all reductions of the Annual Estimates of Revenues and Expenditure purportedly affected by the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly were ultra vires the Constitution and the jurisdiction and authority of the National Assembly.
Dr. Luncheon is seeking the third-named defendant, Dr. Ashni Singh, to be at liberty to make advances/ withdrawals from the Contingencies Fund, pursuant to Article 220 of the Constitution, for the purpose of restoring the funds to the Agencies listed, as originally budgeted in the Estimates of the Revenues and Expenditure of Guyana for the year 2012.
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