The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has highlighted what it said is a major constitutional flaw in the 2015 budget estimates which it has brought to the attention of the House Speaker and which the government has undertaken to correct shortly.
The PPP, through former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, contends that the estimates in their current structure are inconsistent and violate two recent pieces of legislation which the government passed and assented to at the start of the 11th Parliament.
The two pieces of legislation are the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2015 and the Constitutional (Amendment) Act 2015. Together, they remove and provide financial independence for several constitutional bodies.
The Bills were passed in the absence of the opposition People’s Progressive Party. Both Acts were assented to before the presentation of the 2015 Budget on August 10 and the PPP believes there are no excuses to be provided for such oversight.
According to Nandlall, the estimates do not reflect the changes for several agencies and do not allow the agencies to source lump-sum financial provisions “We were told this is very important and necessary to be done to ensure public accountable and remove political interference,” Nandlall added.
Among those agencies that do not enjoy financial independence are The Public Service Commission, The Police Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, The Public Service Appellate Tribunal, The Supreme Court of Judicature, The Office of the Ombudsman, The Parliament Office and the Guyana Elections Commission.
The opposition has credited this as the reason for the delay of the start of the Monday’s consideration of the estimates of expenditure, owing to a lengthy meeting between the Speaker, the government MPs and opposition MPs.
According to the opposition, the government has agreed to present a motion in the House to correct the current oversight and bring the estimates in conformity with two the pieces of legislation.
Meanwhile, opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira also contends that several Rights Commissions are improperly placed under several ministries for which she said the motion to be brought by the government will also correct. “What was clear in meeting was that government appeared to not be too appreciative of issues but I think it is a good sign that we have reached some consensus to draft a new motion,” she added.