Cabinet calls itself “plenary” to appoint State boards
…despite Chief Justice’s ruling that Cabinet is “resigned”
Despite acting Chief Justice Roxanne George ruling that Cabinet is resigned after the passage of a no-confidence resolution, Government continues its “business as usual” policy with a Cabinet in all but name.
This is because a plenary consisting of all Ministers of Government has been continuing the work of the Cabinet by appointing the Boards of various State entities. As recent as Saturday, a total of six Boards were gazetted. All were approved by the ministerial plenary.
In the case of the Adoption Board, under the Social Protection Ministry, this Board was approved for the period of February 1 to December 31, 2019. Chairing the board is former A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Parliamentarian James Bond.
Sitting on the Board as members are Geoffrey Sankies, Kashir Khan, Clonel Boston, Punilall Latchman and Patricia Grey. There is also supposed to be a representative from the Parliamentary Opposition.
Also appointed were members of the National Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety with Earl Morris and Patricia Woolford as Chairman and Vice Chairperson and 14 other members. Representatives from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and the University of Guyana also have to be appointed.
The Boards for the Guyana Women Leadership Institute, the Guyana Prison Service Agriculture Development Board, the Fire Advisory Board and the National Commission for the Elderly were also approved.
Affixing their signatures to each one of these gazetted notices are Edward Persico as “Secretary to the Cabinet” and Minister of State Joseph Harmon.
According to Article 106 (6) of the Guyana Constitution, “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”.
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”.
Immediately after the passage of the motion, the coalition Government had said it would uphold the Constitution, but subsequently took a U-turn, maintaining that everything is business as usual.
President David Granger has maintained on several occasions that there is no provision in the Constitution for a “caretaker” Government. Furthermore, the Government went on to challenge the passage of the motion, first in the National Assembly and then in the High Court.
However, the acting Chief Justice found that the no-confidence motion was validly passed and that Cabinet should have resigned. Government has since appealed this decision, and those matters are expected to be decided on at the Appeal Court soon.
But following the High Court ruling, the coalition has been using a ‘ministerial plenary’, which is imbued with Cabinet powers, to carry on Government business.
In fact, they have noted contracts from the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) and given their approval for various appointments.
This is a move which Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has called illegal. “They have a ministerial plenary to bypass the Chief Justice’s ruling, which is illegal,” the Opposition Leader has said.
Jagdeo had noted, too, that if the People’s Progressive Party, of which he is also the General Secretary, returns to office, then all the actions and decisions of the coalition Government since December 21 will be reviewed and reversed.