The nation has woken up to a letter dated February 25, 2019 sent by Mr. Granger to Mr. Jagdeo in their respective capacities to discuss:
“(1) The National Assembly’s constitutional role in the present situation; and (2) GECOM’s readiness and requirement for funding to enable it to conduct General and Regional Elections (GRE)…”
The Government of Gu-yana’s financial architecture as prescribed by the law provides GECOM with certain tools that it can use to do its work. As a statutory agency, GECOM and in compliance with Article 222A of the Guyana Constitution has the power to “manage its subvention in such a manner as it deems fit for the efficient discharge of its functions”.
In the 2019 Budget, G$5.371 billion was approved for GECOM to spend in 2019. Aren’t those enough funds to commence preparatory works for the 2019 Elections? Are we printing gold lined ballot papers? Who does GECOM and Team Granger think they are fooling?
But just supposing that GECOM needs a billion or two more, the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (Act No. 20 of 2003) has given GECOM the power to ask the Minister of Finance to release funds for a national contingent liability that has occurred because of a constitutional act that was given life by Article 106 of the Guyana Constitution on December 23, 2018. This spending of public money is not a discretionary ask, but a mandatory one which the Minister of Finance must execute.
The Minister of Finance must approve the funding of this future commitment by way of the Contingency Funds, because the entire financial commitment was unforeseen, unavoidable and urgent, and is a matter of national importance that transcends party politics. So there is no role for Mr. Jagdeo and Mr. Granger in this arrangement. GECOM does not need Mr. Granger’s or Mr. Jagdeo’s permission to draw on the Contingency Funds to hold Elections.
As to Issue No. 1 and the constitutional role of the National Assembly, Mr. Granger must be advised that such a role becomes relevant only once an elections date is publicly declared by him and only him. This process does not need Mr. Jagdeo until a date is announced. Again, who does Mr. Granger think he is fooling?
Between now and March 20, 2019, there is no need for the National Assembly to meet, unless for the primary act of extending the life of the Government using a 2/3 majority of all the elected members (44 whole members).
But in the absence of an elections date, what is Mr. Granger trying to do, force an after-life for his Government using these zombie tactics? I trust Mr. Jagdeo and his Team would engage in parliamentary semantics by extending the life of a Government that has not yet committed to an elections date. Enough time has passed since December 23, 2019 for all the power brokers in Team Granger to fully comprehend the gravity of the matter at hand. We must at least credit them with some common sense.
I therefore call on Mr. Jagdeo to write to Mr. Granger and politely decline the offer to meet, for the simple reason that there is nothing to meet about this time until a date for the elections is publicly declared by Mr. Granger. This is serious business, and Mr. Granger and Mr. Jagdeo are supposed to be serious people with serious responsibilities. There should be no time for games of deceit to outmanoeuvre each other. Attending this meeting without an elections date would serve only one purpose: to kick the bucket down the road. Is this in Mr. Jagdeo and his team’s best interest?
Further, this meeting helps no one; not the private sector, who are seeing their business implode; the citizenry, who live in a society of great uncertainty; and the political opposition, who will only be aiding and abetting an idle Government whose life expires on March 20, 2019.
This letter from Mr. Granger seeks to serve the interest of one group – David Arthur Granger and his apparatchiks, who continue to live the high life on the backs of the Guyanese people, and expect to continue to do so with zero accountability. Is Mr. Jagdeo so desperate for a fist bump with Mr. Granger that he would attend this meeting without a declared elections date?
We shall see!