A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will be pursuing the illegal spending by Government as far as the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
This is according to APNU’s Financial Spokesperson, Carl Greenidge, who said that according to the laws of Guyana, the Finance Minister can be jailed for his actions.
Greenidge in an interview with this publication yesterday said that Government is banking on advice that the law speaks to ‘officials’ being penalized for abuse of public funds, but that this is limited to public servants and not elected Ministers.
Greenidge said that he does believe that ‘officials’ cannot be attributed to the Ministers as well.
The APNU parliamentarian said that the coalition lodged a complaint with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman when he amended the motion which was pursuing a course of action seeking to sanction the Finance Minister in the Committee of Privileges over the allocation of funding to the National Communications Network and the Government Information Agency, which the opposition had cut from the 2012 and 2013 budgets.
According to Greenidge, the Speaker removed the most critical aspect of the motion.
Government had argued that the Chief Justice had ruled in its favour and the Finance Ministry had approved the funds in keeping with his ruling. Greenidge, however, is of the view that the Chief Justice cannot authorize spending from the coffers. He said that it is only the legislative arm of government that can authorize the spending of public monies.
He said that the Finance Minister went ahead and made the allocation under the premise that he would be able to convince the opposition that the spending met the requirement; that it was urgent and unavoidable, among other stipulations.
This was not the case, according to Greenidge, and APNU is persistent in its pursuit to ensure that Government spends public monies in the confines of the law.
Greenidge said that APNU does not have much faith in the local judiciary since certain rulings have already placed it in disrepute. He did caution, however, that APNU will have to exhaust all local mechanisms in pursuit of its agenda before reaching to the CCJ, but the coalition is prepared to go all the way to ensure that government spends within the confines of the law.
In December 2013, APNU made good its promise of holding Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh accountable for allocating unapproved monies that the combined opposition cut from government agencies and projects in Budget 2013.
Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (rtd) David Granger, had announced that Dr. Singh’s action was unlawful and that APNU will initiate action through the National Assembly to deal with “Ministers who feel that they are not accountable to the National Assembly and who behave in an unlawful manner.”
During the Ninth Parliament, Housing Minister Irfaan Ali and the late APNU parliamentarian Deborah Backer were referred to the Committee. Only Backer’s matter was ever heard, but the Committee’s recommendations were never implemented by the House. In relation to Ali, Parliament had dissolved before the matter was heard against him.
The Committee of Privileges may recommend to the House that a Member be reprimanded or called on to apologize or face suspension.
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