Controversial financial paper may not be debated before Parliament recess

Government’s controversial Financial Paper No 1/2014, which has ignited plans for a no-confidence motion against the PPP/C administration, may not be debated before the National Assembly goes into its scheduled August 10 recess.

The government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, told Stabroek News yesterday that the three political parties are yet to arrive at a decision on when the National Assembly will meet. She said that since the National Assembly met last, which was on July 10, APNU stated that their members had to prepare for the PNCR Congress and AFC members would be travelling. The PNCR is the main constituent of APNU.

Usually, financial papers once tabled are proceeded with at the next sitting. This financial paper has however been deferred with various excuses having been given. The government appears to want to hold off on the ultimate showdown over this financial paper given the ramifications of its likely rejection by the opposition.

Whether the AFC will seek to have its planned motion of no-confidence heard before the August recess is also to be made clear.

The AFC has signalled its intention to proceed with the no-confidence motion which was drafted last week and will be formally pronounced upon by the party during a meeting today. It will no longer be tying the motion to the financial paper being debated in the National Assembly.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh had first submitted to the House a Statement of Excess on June 19 which revealed that he had authorised $4.5 billion to be spent from the Consolidated Fund of the $37.4 billion that was disapproved by the opposition from the original $220 billion 2014 national budget.

Following the AFC’s very vocal intention to bring a no-confidence motion against the government, the financial paper has not come up for debate and Singh was absent from the July 10 sitting of the National Assembly. Prior to that he had revealed during a media briefing on July 3 that he was not sure of what would happen if the opposition said no to the $4.5 billion spent. Singh had said he is aware of cases where “nothing happened” following the National Assembly’s non-approval of money spent under identical circumstances.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Teixeira had said that the financial paper may meet the same fate as the stalled anti-laundering legislation. She said that she could not comment on whether the government was benefiting from the possibility of a date not being set for the National Assembly to meet, given the uncertainty surrounding the ramifications if the motion is rejected.

A no-confidence motion if passed would trigger general elections. Last week after drafting the motion AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan had stated that it was no longer something that was being talked about. “We are going to bring it, there is no doubt we want to table it. This is our position, but of course it has to reach consensus with the other political parties,” Ramjattan asserted.

On July 17, the AFC leader had dispatched a letter to President Donald Ramotar stating the party’s intention to move forward with a no-confidence motion. In the letter, which was copied to Opposition Leader David Granger, Ramjattan said “I write to you out of deep concern over the unauthorized and unconstitutional withdrawals made from our nation’s Consolidated Fund by the Minister of Finance. It is my Party’s belief that such withdrawals as reported in Financial Paper #1 of 2014 are in clear contravention of Article 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana and Section 16 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.”

Ramjattan had emphasized that the will of the Guyanese people is reflected in the composition of the National Assembly where the opposition has a one-seat majority, and one of the key roles played by that body is the authorization of all public spending.





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