High Court Judge Justice Franklyn Holder has ruled that the consideration and approval of the budget proposals for Constitutional agencies in September last year were unlawful.
APNU+AFC Member of Parliament David Patterson had filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General and Minister of Finance seeking a declaration that the consideration and approval of budget proposals of constitutional agencies by the National Assembly on September 1st were in breach of Section 80 B(2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).
The Court action was filed after it was found that the government in September last year disbursed sums of monies in favour of Constitutional agencies without first circulating the Budget or a proposal of the agencies.
In his ruling, Justice Holder explained that the Government could not rely on the ‘doctrine of necessity as a defense to its violation of Section 80 (1) and (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act as argued by the Attorney General.
While the government argued that the move was intended to keep Constitutional agencies afloat until a new budget was presented since the government was new, Justice Holder pointed out that there were adequate provisions to address any perceived dilemma relative to financing the new government and the constitutional agencies.
Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde who represented the Opposition in the case said the decision handed down by Justice Holder is an important one in upholding the rule of law.
Forde reminded that just recently, another Judge, Justice Harnanan ruled on other aspects of the case.
In that ruling, the Judge explained that the budgetary process utilised by the government, while no harm was done, was unconstitutional.
The judge pointed out that constitutional agencies ought not to be combined with budgetary agencies as they constitute a direct charge on the consolidated fund.