Business community anxiously awaits CCJ ruling on no-confidence case
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is holding its stance on the state of business in Guyana as many entrepreneurs are still awaiting the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the No-Confidence case.
This is according to President of the Chamber, Nicholas Boyer during a recent interview with this publication.
Back in February, the GCCI conducted a study following the passage of the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion and found that the looming political uncertainty has caused some 64 per cent of businesses to register some sort of decline.
“From the results, 64 per cent of respondents [or about two in every three businesses] experienced some form of decline due to uncertainty over the state of political affairs in Guyana. For those businesses which registered a decline in activity, approximately 85 per cent experienced a 25 to 50 per cent drop in the level of commercial activity. The remaining 15 per cent experienced 75 to 100 per cent decline in business,” the GCCI said.
Against this backdrop, Boyer noted that there has been no improvement as business owners remain in suspense.
“Right now we don’t see a major improvement yet because everybody is aware that May 9 and May 10 will be a hearing at the CCJ so in other words we know that there is a third round to this game and until you get a final decision [we are] still getting that effect from the No-Confidence Motion,” he explained.
Furthermore, the Chamber’s President pointed out that this is likely to be the case because most persons are simply waiting on the ruling from the CCJ before making further decisions.
“I think that right now businesses are still on a wait and see mode because clearly everybody is aware that on May 9 and 10 the Caribbean Court of Justice will hear arguments for and against whether the No-Confidence Motion was properly passed and then subsequent to that, make a decision,” Boyer said.
He made reference to the fact that if the CCJ rules in favour of the Government to say the motion of No-Confidence was not passed then it means business as usual, however, if the court rules that the motion was validly passed to overthrow the Government then the entire country will be in uncertainty, given that the stipulated timeline for Regional and General Elections would have elapsed.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence”.
Meanwhile, 106 (7) goes on to state that, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election”.
On March 22, a divided Appeal Court ruled that a majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the No-Confidence Motion brought against the A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government last year.
Government had subsequently asked the House to reverse the passage of the motion, but its Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, had declined the request and had advised that the court be approached. As such, Government had gone to the High Court to challenge the validity of the motion, saying that a 34 majority is needed for it to be successfully passed.
Acting Chief Justice Roxane George had, in January, upheld the December 21, 2018, passage of the No-Confidence Motion, ruling that in Guyana’s 65-member National Assembly, a majority is 33. This, however, was appealed by Attorney General Basil Williams.
While Justice Rishi Persaud dismissed the appeal and conferred with the ruling of the High Court, his colleague appellate judges allowed the State’s appeal.
Both Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Dawn Gregory opined that while 33 is the majority of the 65-member National Assembly, the successful passage of a No-Confidence Motion requires an “absolute majority” of 34, and not the “simple” majority of 33 that has been used to pass ordinary business in the House.