Only routine work, bills enabling elections can be passed – Nandlall
Sittings of National Assembly
…says spending of taxpayers’ money on new capital projects, policies “unlawful”
With the passage of several bills during the parliamentary Opposition’s absence of the 112th sitting of the 11th Parliament, a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) frontbencher has made it clear that only certain bills can be passed in the house under current circumstances.
In an interview with Guyana Times, former Attorney General and Opposition parliamentarian Anil Nandlall made it clear that after a Government falls to a no-confidence vote, the current circumstances in question, it cannot be “business as usual.”
“Naturally, Government is expected to provide the basic services of the state to the
citizens, which are public security, public health, public utilities, payment of salaries of public servants, etc…”
Besides these basic services, Nandlall made it clear that Government also has to give the highest priority to preparing the electoral machinery, in the form of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for elections within three months.
“Any bills which are necessary to accomplish those objectives ought to be passed. However, the Government will have no authority to bring in new legislation that are unrelated to those matters to which I made reference,” Nandlall said.
“Government cannot embark on new capital projects and cannot begin implementing new policies; more so, those that cannot be completed in time for elections. Any expenditure of public funds on those types of projects can be regarded as unlawful and may attract criminal liability,” he added.
On Thursday, the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill No 20 of 2018; the Capital Gains (Amendment) Bill; the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill and the Natural Resources Fund of 2018 were all passed in the National Assembly.
While Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland called for those in favour and against these bills to speak up, only the ‘I’s from the Government side were heard. That is because the PPP parliamentarians boycotted the sitting on account of its unconstitutionality.
On December 21, 2018, the No-confidence Motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition against the Government succeeded when Charrandas Persaud, a former AFC Member of Parliament, broke rank and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.
With the Government’s defeat, the Constitution of Guyana is clear about the next steps. 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, clause 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.”
Since the passage of the motion on December 21, however, persons aligned with the coalition party have sought to question the motion’s validity even as the vote has already been certified.
In addition, Government has insisted it is going nowhere until elections are held. A court case was filed on Friday, in which an order is being sought to, among other things, delay the elections until the court rules on the matter.