Deadline set for decision on confidence vote

The parliamentary opposition will by next Tuesday decide on whether to move a no-confidence motion against the Donald Ramotar administration, APNU executive Dr Rupert Roopnaraine said yesterday.

After a meeting between APNU and the AFC yesterday, Roopnaraine told Stabroek News that a potential no-confidence motion was too serious of a matter for only one party to proceed with. “I believe that the Parliament has to show that its processes have been abused… Parliament needs to have a sharp response to this abuse,” he said.

Roopnaraine, speaking about the decision by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh to table a financial paper to cover $4.5 billion that was spent by the administration in defiance of opposition-led cuts to the national budget, noted that such exploitation needed to be addressed firmly.

He said that the meeting between the two parties ended with them agreeing to come to a definitive position by Tuesday, two days before a showdown with the government is expected in the National Assembly.

Roopnaraine revealed that other options that the parties are considering were to completely reject the financial papers or declare them out of order. He said that moving a motion of censure against Singh was also a possibility. Singh was earlier this year referred to the Privileges Committee for his failure to comply with a parliamentary resolution that required him to provide reports on extra-budgetary agencies and to pay all monies being held by such agencies into the Consolidated Fund.

Roopnaraine called the spending “an abuse,” noting that the money was already spent without any regard that those same sums were cut from the budget. He said that for the minister to come after the fact showed the government’s lack of respect for the process.

Roopnaraine said that both opposition forces were also considering going to the court for a declaration on the financial paper because it is a complete violation of the constitution. He added that the opposition’s stance on the financial paper was to ensure that it is not approved and as a result a course of action will need to be taken to ensure that the government does not continue to make a mockery of the parliamentary system.

Earlier, Singh, at a press briefing at NCN, was asked what would happen if the opposition failed to approve the financial papers. He did not reply.

Roopnaraine, asked about the opposition’s inability to hold government accountable for disregarding parliamentary obligations, acknowledged the situation and he said that yesterday’s meeting was to ensure that moving forward the opposition was taking a more hardline approach.

Opposition and APNU leader David Granger was a bit more cautious when he told Stabroek News that both groups were “coordinating our position and our action. We will take a course of action, but you will have to wait and see.”

Despite the seriousness of the motion, which if passed by the one-seat opposition majority would bring down the government, there had been no direct communication by the parties for days. Granger had reached out to the AFC to coordinate Thursday’s meeting, although it was the AFC that had first brought the issue up.

When pressed on the possibility of the no-confidence motion being pursued, Granger noted that it was not APNU that had originally put the idea out there but added that it was not off the table.

Granger said that the law had been broken when the money was utilised after being cut from the passed budget. “When you break the law you will have to face the law,” he said. But when asked what exactly that meant in terms of the government, the opposition leader did not say anything further other than “we are still coordinating positions and actions.”

The notion of a possible no-confidence motion against the government was first brought to the attention of the public by AFC Executive Moses Nagamootoo, who said his party was seriously contemplating the possibility. President Ramotar quickly addressed the issue, saying government is ready.




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