LEGAL Affairs Minister and Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall has rubbished claims by APNU+AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Roysdale Forde that the government has violated Article 219 (3) of the Constitution, as it did not lay before the House a Statement of Expenditure, which he claimed should have been laid before the consideration of the national estimates.
The Attorney-General said Forde’s interpretation of the article is completely wrong.
He explained that Article 219 (3) provides: “Where at any time Parliament has been dissolved before any provision or any sufficient provision is made under this title for the carrying on of the Government of Guyana, the minister responsible for finance may authorise the withdrawal of such sums from the Consolidated Fund he or she may consider necessary for the purpose of meeting expenditure on the public services, until the expiry of a period of three months, commencing with the date on which the National Assembly first meets after that dissolution, but a statement of the expenditure so authorised shall, as soon as practicable, be laid before the National Assembly by the minister responsible for finance, or any other minister designated by the President, and when the statement has been approved by the Assembly, that expenditure shall be included, under the appropriate heads, in the next Appropriation Bill.”
He explained that 219(3) kicks in when there is no Appropriation Act, and there has been spending which is the current situation faced by the PPP/C Government.
Nandlall noted that the law stipulates that as soon as is reasonably practicable, the finance minister or someone designated by the President must lay before the National Assembly the monies expended prior to the Appropriation Act, which would have been laid Friday night.
“The intention of the provision is to account for every dollar spent outside or prior to the Appropriation Act, therefore it is incumbent upon the minister of finance, at the very last moment before the Appropriation Act is tabled, to table that Statement of Expenditure so that it captures every dollar. Now, if Forde doesn’t understand that, I can’t help him,” the Attorney-General said emphatically.
He explained that the PPP/C had stated that it will be laying statements of expenditure, which will disclose to the nation “the monies that have been spent illegally and unconstitutionally, and without parliamentary oversight by the APNU+AFC Government for the past five months. And here it is, Johnny-come-lately said that we are unaware of the existence of 219(3), and he takes credit in pointing us there. Sheer audacity!”
Underscoring that the damaged timeframes cannot be reversed, Nandlall said the government is now charged with bringing regularity and lawfulness back into place.
“It is really a joke that Roysdale Forde, one of the architects of the unconstitutionality which we are confronted with, to now come and jump on some high legal horse and talk to us in the PPP and the rest of the country about constitutional violations; this is a level of barefacedness that is difficult to imagine, unless it is seen and heard,” the legal affairs minister said.
Noting that Forde is new to the Parliament, the AG said the provisions of law he is now confronted with and trying to understand have been applied and interpreted by seasoned parliamentarians for a very long time.
“We have precedence set on how these things are interpreted, and how we apply them in the Parliament. Parliament is governed by rules and procedures that are uniquely parliamentary. Parliament has the power to regulate its own process; it sets its own precedence, and also Parliament is guided by those precedences,” the Attorney-General said, adding: “In my budget presentation, I detailed the desecration and violations which they have done to the Rule of Law and the Constitution, repeatedly, over the past five years while in government.”
In giving an example, he said that APNU lawyers had put forward that 33 was not a majority of 65, along with the bizarre interpretation of the Constitution on the election chairman’s appointment.
Adding that the numerous egregious violations of the Constitution are well-documented over the past five years, the AG said Forde was the leader of the team of lawyers that filed a series of useless, frivolous, abusive and asinine litigations, in an effort to thwart the will of the Guyanese people, and steal the 2020 elections.
The AG noted that it was on the advice of Forde that the APNU+AFC caused the entire nation and State to careen off the constitutional tracks, and made everything done in government illegal and unconstitutional.
He added that it was “their refusal to comply with the no-confidence motion and Article 106 and 107 of the Constitution, and hold an elections within three months; Cabinet refusing to resign as mandated by the Constitution, and then remaining in government beyond that three months, taking the whole Nation State of Guyana off the constitutional orbit and into an arena of unconstitutionality.”
Further, he said that after the March 2, 2020 election, APNU proceeded with their illegalities, which affected all the timeframes fixed by the Constitution for the resumption of Parliament, and the presentation of a budget, along with parliamentary spending.
“Now it is the PPP government that has to try as far as possible, in almost impossible circumstances, to bring back the ship of Guyana within the legal parameters of the Constitution. And that is what we have been doing from the time we got into office,” he said.