IAST became collateral damage not because of the opposition but because of the inflexibility of the Finance Minister

Dear Editor,

I feel the frustration of Dr Suresh Narine, especially after observing personally the great work that IAST conducted on bio-diesel production. IAST is important to the future of Guyana and I am grateful for the time Dr Narine has shared with the agency and hope he continues to serve. But his letter captioned ‘Was the opposition behaving responsibly when IAST become a victim of collateral damage’ (SN, April 23) is clearly not established in facts and can even be considered as farfetched speculation.

In his 21-page ruling in January 2014, the Chief Justice clearly interpreted the constitution with regard to how approval of the National Budget must be treated. Until an appeal court overturns that decision, it remains the only clear legal path on this issue. The Speaker of the National Assembly or any member of parliament can have opinions, but it is all hot air, and has no legal basis or foundation in relation to this matter.

Fully aware and hopefully well advised by his Attorney General, the Minister of Finance ought to have known that the only practical option in the 2014 Budget, was to delink the ‘polluted’ line items from the ‘sterilized’ line items. The majority opposition had made it absolutely clear that until NCN and GINA changed their editorial policy, they would not be approving the entire section that contained these contaminated line items, in concurrence with the Chief Justice’s ruling.

If the minority Minister refuses to listen to the majority in the National Assembly, then he must face the fire.

Thus IAST became collateral damage not because of the principled actions of the majority opposition, but because of the inflexible nature of the Minister of Finance. What is clear, is that the Minister of Finance is more focused on political victory over the opposition rather than the work of IAST. Well the political reality will always be that he will win some and lose some; certainly he cannot win politically all the time.

Thus in this IAST case, the burden of remedy rests with the Minister of Finance, not the majority opposition. As the Chief Justice instructed in his excellent ruling, which was succinctly elucidated by Mr Ralph Ramkarran, the power of the National Assembly has been “curtailed or limited to approving or disapproving, not reducing or cutting.” The fact remains that the National Assembly can only approve or disapprove what has been placed in front of them.

Dr Narine is too brilliant a mind to be caught in this elementary political mess and I am truly disappointed that he chose to peddle this propaganda. Even the ordinary people are aware of the Minister’s game to deceive, and stand ready today to reject these political charlatans at the next poll, and they know it. Hence their reluctance to face the people (Dr Roger Luncheon’s comments – Government won’t go to the polls over budget cuts).

Yours faithfully,
Sase Singh

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