Two persons at odds with each other can both be right. This is the case in relation to the dispute between the Minister of Finance and the Auditor General over the audit of the public accounts of Guyana for 2015.
The Minister says that he does not report to the Auditor General. He is correct. He is accountable to the people through the National Assembly. He is free to differ with the Auditor General on what constitutes an emergency under the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
The Auditor General is also correct. He does not have to report to the Minister of Finance. His office is an independent constitutional office. His reports are laid before the National Assembly, but the Office is not subject to political direction.
When APNU and the AFC were in opposition, they rejected spending by the PPPC from the Contingency Fund on the basis that the need for the monies was not occasioned by unforeseen or unforeseeable circumstances. It was, according to them, neither urgent nor an emergency. They even went as far as indicating that the persons concerned could have been charged under the law. There are some auditors who also feel this way.
They have failed to realize that even if they are correct in their interpretation, the law itself does not penalize such an offence. It may be wrong, it may be unlawful, but there is no punishment under the law.
This column had argued, in the PPPC’s defence and it will do now under the APNU+AFC’s defence, that budgeting is not an exact science. While certain needs may not arise from an emergency, while such needs are theoretically foreseeable (you must know, for example, if you will need a vehicle), there are some things which simply slip under the radar when making up your Budget. You cannot always be expected to be perfect. This column had also argued that what should be urgent is not the uses to which the monies are going to be put, but the need for the financing. Not many people, including APNU and the AFC, shared that view, judging from their actions in the National Assembly when they vetoed the spending by the PPPC from the Contingency Fund.
Now of course, the government is using the same justification as was used by the PPPC to dip into the Contingency Fund. They are saying that it is for them to determine what is urgent and what is not. There is a need for the Courts to pronounce on these matters.
There is a need to settle, once and for all, the circumstances under which monies can be used from the Contingency Fund, so as to void the inconsistent positions adopted by politicians. If it was wrong under the PPPC, it cannot be right under the APNU+AFC.
The government holds a slim one-seat majority and it can use this majority to approve its spending in the National Assembly. In other words, the National Assembly can approve of the spending. But that does not necessarily make such spending legal.
There is a need for consistency. There is the need for a legal determination of the issue of spending from the Contingency Fund. In fact, there is need for the ruling by the Court of Appeal with respect to the right of parliament to amend the Estimates of Expenditure to be taken to the Caribbean Court of Justice. But that is not going to happen because politicians are not consistent. What was wrong yesterday cannot suddenly become right today.
Finally, the Minister is right when he says only he can authorize the spending of monies from the Contingency Fund. Since only he can do this, it also means that only he is accountable for explaining such uses.
Jun 24, 2021Kaieteur News – The domestic-based contingent of Guyana’s Senior Men’s National Team along with some of their overseas based counterparts arrived in the USA last evening ahead of final...
Jun 24, 2021
Jun 24, 2021
Jun 23, 2021
Jun 23, 2021
Jun 23, 2021
Kaieteur News – Anyone who has read my analyses the past 32 years would know that I have literally begged people to... more
Kaieteur News – Cubans should not be penalised because of the alleged discovery of a human trafficking ring involving... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders More commonality was shown by CARICOM countries in a vote on Tuesday June 15 at the Organisation of... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]