A Partnership for National Unity Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Attorney Basil Williams is confident that the Chief Justice of Guyana will grant a Conservatory Order to block the government from further unapproved spending and further spending on projects that were disapproved by the National Assembly.
Mr. Williams who is part of the legal team that filed the court action on behalf of the Opposition Leader David Granger, told a Tuesday news conference that the government cannot be allowed to continue spending the nation’s money when it would not have been granted approval. He said the administration must also be blocked from spending on projects that were disapproved by the National Assembly during the budget estimates.
Just over $37 Billion was cut from the national budget when it reached the Committee of Supplies. The slashed budget was presented to the House for approval and got that approval, but according to Williams the Finance Minister has continued to spend money that was not approved by the budget.
According to the APNU, “in the considering the Estimates of Expenditure for 2014 brought to the National Assembly by Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) used their majority to disapprove of around thirty-seven billion dollars ($37 B) earmarked for certain programmes which were not in the best interest of the Guyanese people.”
The party said that in disapproving such “expenditure the National Assembly relied not only on the provisions of article 218 (2) of the Constitution but the ruling of the learned Chief Justice, Mr. Ian Chang in Action No. 216_W of 2012 Demerara. Justice Chang had ruled that the National Assembly had no power to cut or reduce the Government’s Budget, only power to approve or disapprove it.”.
Williams said following the disapprovals, the Minister of Finance went back to the National Assembly with the new Estimates of Expenditure minus the disapproved $37 Billion dollars and the new estimates were passed by the National Assembly as the Appropriation Act No. 10 of 2014. He said despite the said disapprovals, the Minister of Finance still spent around $4.5 billion dollars on the said programmes by the 16th June 2014.
APNU contends that the Minister of Finance’s decision to spend the money that was disapproved, amounted to a breach of the doctrine of the separation of powers as it abridged the decisions of the Parliament and its independence.
The party is seeking a conservatory order from the court “to stay all spending or any further spending on the programmes disapproved by the Parliament and other unauthorized spending by the Government.”
The Attorney General has said the court action is without merit. The Government has been given time to respond.
Filed: 17th December, 2014