A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is set to meet with the Alliance for Change (AFC) tomorrow to discuss a formal strategy to proceed with a possible no-confidence motion against the government.
Leader of APNU, David Granger, told Stabroek News yesterday that after contemplating various potential strategies the party has “decided to meet with the AFC because we feel that we must give every possible consideration. We haven’t taken a decision outside of the Alliance for Change because both parties will have to go together to achieve an outcome.” Both parties would have to vote in favour of the motion for it to succeed.
He said that this was the first time the party has formally discussed the no-confidence motion and the importance level was high given the current manner in which the PPP/C government is conducting itself. Talk of the no-confidence motion flared up after Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh disclosed that $4.55B had been spent on items that the opposition had cut from the budget and presented a financial paper to Parliament for its consideration. Granger stated that “we are concerned that the fact that the financial paper was an open defiance of the bill and the decision by the National Assembly and the Appropriation Act that was passed…”
Granger added that the Minister of Finance’s decision to approve the spending of $4.55 billion of the $37.4 billion which had been cut by the joint opposition from the $220 billion 2014 budget was an act of “lawlessness.” The government has defended the action as lawful and in accord with the ruling of Chief Justice Ian Chang on the matter.
Granger said that the funding was deliberately not approved and that the government’s decision was “the worst case of defiance we have had in the last 30 months”. Granger noted that while the party considers a possible no-confidence motion it was important to think about the “matter on hand” which he said was the “Minister of Finance advancing an illegality of something that was physically excluded from the Appropriation Act, there is no legal justification for his actions.”
Granger dodged the question of whether the party was prepared for the outcome should a no-confidence be passed in the National Assembly. Stabroek News asked the Opposition Leader if the party was prepared for the possibility of General Elections should a no-confidence motion be passed thereby bringing down the government. Granger stated that the focus needed to be on the illegal spending by the government but that General Elections could not be ruled out.
He remained mum when asked by Stabroek News if the party was in a financial position to go to elections.
Also speaking to Stabroek News, APNU Executive, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine said that there are a variety of moves that would need to be considered prior to a no-confidence motion. He did say that should elections be held APNU would have to find the resources to run a political campaign. He noted that prior to meeting with the AFC the party will have to have discussions prepared.
The AFC, which had first raised the issue via Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo in a Stabroek News report, has yet to reach out formally to APNU on any plans to move forward on a no-confidence motion and tomorrow’s meeting was organized by APNU.
Nagamootoo, a former longstanding PPP member prior to joining the AFC in 2011, told Stabroek News that a no-confidence motion could be what was necessary to end the constant gridlock in Parliament.
Nagamootoo said that the government’s behaviour lacks transparency and that the unauthorized spending only highlighted the way in which the minority government operated with an utter lack of regard for presenting information. He said that there has been an abandonment of the tripartite engagements among the parties “which is a pity and I also believe that was a deliberate move on the government’s part. It is in keeping with the style of the Ramotar regime”. He said that “we want engagement and that these discussions need to be between the leaders and be done through parliamentary engagement.”
The government’s bid for damage control has been very visible with President Donald Ramotar calling a press briefing on Saturday to specifically address the issue of a possible no-confidence vote. It was the second time in four days that he spoke about the issue. On Wednesday at the Private Sector Commission’s Annual General Meeting at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown he said “We do not take threats. If the opposition wants to pass a no-confidence bill, let them pass it and we will be ready to deal with the consequences of that.” (Pushpa Balgobin)