There is one bright spot in Guyana’s political and law making system that must be fought for; our Parliament. The Speaker, Mr. Raphael Trotman must have his grip firmly planted on Parliament if this institution is to function properly and be respected by the minority PPP regime. After all, as Speaker, he must exert his authority and influence over those elements whose primary goal is to make Parliament a farce/rubber stamp because they have lost control of this noble institution. The separation of powers as imbedded in the constitution makes Parliament an independent and supreme law making institution, and no one, not the PPP or APNU should be allowed to destroy it. We know for a fact that the PPP, starting with Janet Jagan has ignored the decision of the High Court and now they have turned their evil power on Parliament.
The alleged spending of some G$4.5 billion by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Ashni Singh that was not approved by Parliament has to be addressed both in the Courts and in Parliament. Misconduct in public office is a common law offence (R v Bembridge, 1783). As a trustee of the people if the offender deliberately spent this money without approval of the people’s Parliament, then his action must be seen as corrupt and contempt for the people and Parliament. What was the intent of his alleged action, if not to defraud the public purse? This is nothing new for the PPP regime which has rendered every moral value and every legal and monitoring institution in Guyana useless. No effective and independent Integrity Commission, no Procurement Commission and no Ombudsman, just to name a few.
In the excellent book “Corruption and Misuse of Public Office” by Colin Nichols, QC, it was clearly pointed out that even if a public officer has the benefit of a privileged position, but they fail to discharge their duties truly and competently and for the public good, they can be charged and thrown in jail.
The surreptitious attempt by the minority PPP regime to spend the nation’s tax dollars that was not authorized by Parliament must be exposed for what it is—a malicious attack upon the integrity of the Parliament and if again Minister Singh is allowed to get away with this transgression, then the Parliament would have lost its purpose and deemed nothing else but a talk shop rather than an essential ingredient in the triumvirate of state power.
So the Chief Justice ruling as Ralph Ramkarran, SC clearly elucidated, is to preserve the power of the National Assembly to “approve or not approve” the estimates. The opposition cannot cut, but they can disapprove estimates in the budget and if they disapprove any estimate, then the legal vehicle left to the Minister is to present Supplemental Estimates at a later date with the hope that the majority will grant approval. What is extremely clear is that the Minister does not have the authority to spend a dime unless it is deemed as urgent, unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances such as expenditure on floods and other national catastrophes. Granting funds that were not approved by Parliament to NCN, GINA and the Office of the President cannot be deemed as a national catastrophe and as such the Minister has failed to discharge his duties to the people and must be held in contempt. The Speaker cannot fail the people; he must show leadership and act against the Minister or else he will be deemed a failure.
So what next? Mr. Carl Greenidge has spoken, and is that it? Will another year pass and another abuse of the financial regulations happen and the Opposition will continue to issue press conferences? Last year when the abuse occurred, the APNU and the AFC did say they will sanction the Minister and bring him in front of the Privileges Committee but as we recognized, it was all HOT AIR from the Opposition since nothing has happened to the Minister who is now embolden to spend not $1 billion as he did last year but $4.5 billion this year. Will we see the Minister spending over $10 billion outside of the budget in 2015? We call on both Opposition parties to stop their foolish talk and take drastic action against the Minister and by extension, the PPP minority regime. They must pass a vote of no confidence against Ashni Singh and prevent him from taking unilateral action in terms of the people’s money.
This is the time for the Speaker to act forcefully against the PPP in order to protect and preserve the institution he now presides over. Can he? On one occasion it was observed that the Speaker of the National Assembly had twisted his junk rules to accommodate Mr. Rohee who received a “no confidence” vote from the majority opposition. On another, the Speaker allowed Ms. Priya Manickchand to deliver her budget speech despite her refusal to apologize for her rude and vulgar remarks against the Deputy Leader of the Justice for all Party, Mr. Jaipaul Sharma. We condemn the Speaker for compromising with the regime that wants all for themselves and nothing for the majority opposition. If the Speaker does not act, then we call upon the majority opposition to ask him to step down and if he refuses, they should pass a no confidence vote against him.
The fact that the Minister of Finance knowingly spends money that was not appropriated by Parliament is total disrespect to the August House and his curious prattle that he will act according to the Chief Justice rulings suggests that mischief, severe, ugly and desperate, is afoot. The opposition must stop the PPP from trampling on the rights of the people. Practical actions are needed and not cheap talk or weekly press conferences.
No one in the PPP regime is a shining example of integrity, loyalty, hard work, commitment to nation, democracy and justice and thus they cannot be trusted, period, to act in good faith and in the interests of the people. It is the duty of the majority opposition to act swiftly on this financial transgression by the minority PPP regime so that further financial injury is not brought to bear on this nation. Enough is enough!
Over to you Mr. Carl Greenidge!
Name and address withheld
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