In rejecting the ex parte application from AG, Mr. Anil Nandlall to put aside the decision of the National Assembly in support of a smaller quantum for the 2012 Budget, the Chief Justice made it clear that in accordance with Section 222 of the Constitution, only those entities cited in the Third Schedule (the Ethnic Relations Commission is one such entity), can be financed as a direct charge on the Consolidated Fund. Thus his sound instructions to restore the sum assigned for the ERC is duly noted and supported by the majority opposition APNU/AFC. Unlike the majority opposition, the Freedom House cabal does not support court rulings that are not in their favour. In fact, to date they have not supported any decision/bills passed by Parliament neither has the president assented to any of them so far. The reason being is that this elected dictatorship is a bully and believes that it can do what it wants. But the question is “how long” and the answer is “not for long.”
It would be quite interesting to observe what the actual charge on the Consolidated Fund for other agencies not in the Third Schedule (NCN, GINA, One Lap Top project, etc.) would be. The key issue remains, in accordance with Section 120 of the Constitution, that expenditures can only be charged to the Consolidated Fund, “…subject to the approval of the National Assembly”. From the empirical evidence at our disposal, the Minister reported to the National Assembly on April 26th, 2012 that the Committee of Supply recommended a reduced 2012 Budget. He so sought approval for the amended (reduced) 2012 Budget from the National Assembly. This approval was so granted for an amended (reduced) 2012 Budget by the National Assembly that said night.
Thus we remain very amused at all the legal flouncing that was done in 2012 by an office holder in the Attorney General Chambers. He even went so far as to hire a more learned Trinidadian Senior Counsel at some G$4 million per visit, to buttress his legal Carnival, all to a waste of millions of dollars of taxpayer’s resources.
This now bring us to the finalized actual expenditure for 2012. In addition to scrutinizing the 2013 estimates, it is expected that the majority opposition and their army of lawyers will also scrutinize the 2012 actual expenditure to ascertain if there were any unauthorized and illegal spending in 2012 – namely NCN, GINA, One Lap Top etc. If the empirical evidence is there to support such illegality, then there is enough justification to commence immediate parliamentary proceedings against the relevant delinquent parties and have them interrogated in front of the Privileges Committee of Parliament. If found guilty of violating the Parliamentary Standing Orders, it is hoped that good sense will prevail and relevant Parliamentary action including possible financial surcharges, if necessary, will be instituted to preserve the rule of law in the highest decision making body in the land.
We are of the firm conclusion that the airport expansion and the Marriott projects cannot be feasibly supported by any rational mind until the feasibility studies are released for public consumption. Interesting times are ahead in the Committee of Supply as it considers the 2013 Budget. It is hoped that the APNU, AFC and PPP will share notes this time to ensure that Guyana secures the best budget for the poor and the working class.
Dr. Asquith Rose and Harish S. Singh