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The escalating episode of the apparent conflict between the oversight of Parliament and the Courts in this matter is a real learning experience for us all. I am clear that the Speaker spoke on Friday 23 January 2015 with the intention to convey that the High Court had sent him an official Notice which was decisive in the conduct of the business of Parliament.

Here is the contentious sentence of Speaker Wade Mark’s statement –

…I received only a few hours ago a notice from the High Court of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago dated January 16, 2015, a matter involving Larry Howai and Azad Ali of the Sunshine Publishing Company Limited…

It seems very clear to me what the Speaker intended to say. Of course we now know that the statement was baseless and misleading. Misleading in the extreme.

The Speaker’s attempt to correct his statement only came…

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  • In other regional new!

    BREAKING NEWS: APNU, AFC agree to coaliton

    BREAKING NEWS: APNU, AFC agree to coaliton

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    Denis Scott Chabrol

    Denis Scott Chabrol

    dchabrol@demerarawaves.com

    ‎Guyana‎’s two major opposition parties have agreed to form an alliance to contest the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, according to well-placed sources.

    The sources intimatel‎y knowledgeable about the talks confirmed that David Granger of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) would be the presidential candidate. His prime ministerial running mate is Moses Nagamootoo of the Alliance For Change (AFC).

    The major overnight sticking point of the percentage allocation of‎ cabinet posts appears to have been also resolved.

    Up to after midnight Friday when the two sides met, AFC was holding on tenaciously to a 60/40 allocation in its favour.

    Having given up on demanding the presidential candidacy, the AFC appeared to have succeeded in making other major demands in its quest to sell its long-held ambition to lead what it terms a pro-democracy alliance.

    Up to the early hours of Saturday, the AFC appeared to have succeeded in getting other top posts including Head of the Presidential Secretariat, and the ministries of Home Affairs, Agriculture, Tourism and possibly Natural Resources.

    The Guyana Trades Union Congress’ (GTUC) General Secretary, Lincoln Lewis has since lashed out at AFC and APNU for attempting to subvert Guyana’s constitution by agreeing that the Prime Minister would chair cabinet.

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  • Keeping our eyes on what’s is happening in the region:

    Bar association says Parliament should have been dissolved by Feb 10

    FEBRUARY 14, 2015 · BY STABROEK EDITOR · 46 COMMENTS NEXT ARTICLE »

     

    The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) today said that Parliament should have been dissolved by February 10 in accordance with the constitution.

    In a statement, it said that “The failure to act in accordance with clear Constitutional provisions is a worrying manifestation of casual disregard of the laws by which we are governed.”

    The GBA statement follows:

    President Donald Ramotar prorogued the National Assembly on November 10, 2014 under Article 70 of the Guyana Constitution. Prior to the prorogation, the National Assembly held its last sitting on July 10, 2014 after which it went on its two months recess commencing on August 10, 2014 bringing the session to an end on that date.

    The preceding section which the President’s legal advisors have no doubt brought to his attention, Article 69 (1) states unambiguously:

    “Each session of Parliament shall be held at such place within Guyana and shall begin at such time (not being later than six months from the end of the preceding session if Parliament has been prorogued or four months from the end of that session if Parliament has been dissolved) as the President shall appoint by proclamation.”

    It would appear therefore that the non-dissolution of Parliament is unconstitutional and unlawful. It should have been done no later than February 10, 2015.

    The failure to act in accordance with clear Constitutional provisions is a worrying manifestation of casual disregard of the laws by which we are governed. It is more acute when done by the Executive whose mandate it is to uphold those laws.

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  • Guyana Supreme Court rules gov’t deliberately spent $4.5 billion which Parliament cut from budget in breach of constitution.

    Unlawful $4.5B gov’t spending

    AG downplays decision, but Williams says minister can face charge

    FEBRUARY 17, 2015 · BY STAFF WRITER · 2 COMMENTS NEXT ARTICLE »

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    Both sides are claiming victory after acting Chief Justice Ian Chang’s recent finding that government spent $4.5 billion in violation of the constitution, with Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall saying the judge spoke on issues not before him for decision, while attorney Basil Williams says the Finance Minister can face a criminal charge.

    In his ruling, Justice Chang refused an application made by opposition leader David Granger for a conservatory order to stop “unauthorised” expenditure, although he found that controversial expenditure last year of $4.5 billion by the government was unconstitutional.

    However, in a six-page press release issued yesterday, Nandlall stressed that the conservatory order that was refused was “the only matter” before the court.

    Anil Nandlall

    Anil Nandlall

    “Unfortunately, the Chief Justice chose to express his views on a number of other matters which were not issues that were before him for determination,” he, however, said, adding that these are issues that will have to be determined at the hearing of the substantive action and only after pleadings have been filed and evidence led. “Indeed, no legal submissions were made either by the Attorney General or Mr Ashton Chase, SC on these matters. The reason is simple. They were not live issues before the court since they did not relate and were not relevant to the application for the Conservatory Order, which was the only application that was before the court,” he added.

    He said too that the Chief Justice embarked upon an examination and interpretation of Articles 217 and 218 (3) of the Constitution. “Again, I emphasise that the only matter with which the court was seized at this point and time was whether or not a Conser-vatory Order should be granted in relation to spending for the year 2015, only Article 219 of the Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act 2003 were relevant. In this factual matrix, Articles 217 and 218 have no relevance,” he said.

    Nandlall stated that in interpreting Article 217 of the Constitution, the Chief Justice noted that except where expenditures have been charged upon the Consolidated Fund by the Constitution or an Act of Parliament, moneys cannot be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund without authorisation by an Appropriation Act (except under Article 219).

    Addressing Article 218 (3), he said the Chief Justice found that there can be an avoidance of a breach of Article 217 by the utilisation of a Supplementary Estimate. “Fundamentally, he also found that a breach of Article 217 can be cured or remedied by utilising a statement of excess as authorised by Article 218 (3),” he said, adding that this mechanism was a “curative measure” to a violation of Article 217. Therefore, he added, the Constitution itself provides a curative measure to remedy its violation.

    Basil Williams

    Basil Williams

    “However, and I dare say strangely, the Chief Justice then proceeds to draw a distinction between advertent and inadvertent expenditure for which Statements of Excess can be laid,” Nandlall noted, adding that he further pronounces that if the over-expenditure or over-withdrawal was “advertent” then it cannot be remedied by the curative aspect of Article 218 (3).

    “I respectfully part company with the learned Chief Justice on this aspect of his interpretation. Article 218 (3) in its width, ambit, and latitude makes no distinction between ‘advertent’ and ‘inadvertent’ expenditure or over withdrawal. Indeed no such or similar words of limitation are either expressed or can be implied in the language of Article 218 (3). Therefore, that restrictive interpretation runs afoul of the express language of Article 218 (3),” the AG said.

    He said that this is not the first time that the Chief Justice had cause to interpret Articles 217 and 218 (3) of the Constitution in this very context, while citing the preliminary and final rulings given in the budget cuts case. “Importantly, between the time of the preliminary and final ruling the Minister of Finance, in almost identical circumstances, withdrew moneys not approved by the National Assembly and used the same and utilised Article 218 (3) to do so, laying Statements of Excess before the National Assembly in relation thereto in compliance with the said Article of the Constitution.

    Nandlall noted that presently the government awaits the hearing and determination of the substantive action where the opportunity will be provided for its legal advisers to present arguments on the issues which are the subject of the Chief Justice’s remarks.

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