Politically-aligned Teaching, Police Service Commission Heads masquerading as independent – AG
…join APNU/AFC case to block their own 2021 Budget allocations
Attorney General Anil Nandlall has condemned a move by the Police and Teaching Service Commissions to joined a political litigation filed by the APNU+AFC Opposition to block the disbursement of the 2021 budget allocations to the various constitutional agencies, including their own allocations.
Speaking on his weekly online and televised programme, ‘Issues In The News’, Nandlall expressed worry that these two Service Commissions, which under the Constitution of Guyana are independent constitutional bodies, are now openly aligning themselves with a political party.
“Here it is, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Teaching Service Commission (TSU) have joined a political party in filing a political litigation against the Government. These are people who are clamouring for impartial treatment from our Government. They want their independence to be respected. The constitution says that they are independent and that that independence must be respected. But here it is, they have shunned their masks, pulled off their masks and they are now openly political,” he posited.
Opposition Members of Parliament Ganesh Mahipaul and Coretta McDonald had approached the High Court in February, seeking, among other things, to prohibit the consideration and approval of 2021 budget for constitutional agencies and the disbursement of budgetary allocations. They contended that those were wrongly laid before the National Assembly.
However, the High Court last Friday dismissed the application after the National Assembly had already approved the passage of the $383.1 billion 2021 budget on Thursday afternoon and the Appropriation Act was signed.
But the other aspect of the legal proceeding, challenging certain provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) as unlawful and unconstitutional, will be litigated.
While the case was filed in the name of the two Coalition MPs by a slew of Opposition lawyers – including Roysdale Forde, Khemraj Ramjattan, Raphael Trotman and Amanza Desir-Walton, who are all parliamentarians as well – the PSC and TSU, along with the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), have joined the litigation.
But AG Nandlall contends that he does not have a problem with the heads of these entities wanting to be politicians, which is their right, but he noted that they cannot masquerade as independent.
“That is the problem that I have… You can’t want to be a politician and then masquerade as an independent constitutional office holder. That is hypocrisy, that is wrong, and these must be exposed because you are receiving public monies under the false pretense that you are impartial…when in fact you are a politician in camouflage,” he asserted.
That in itself, according to the AG, is a violation of the Constitution.
Moreover, Nandlall outlined that by openly embracing politically partisan postures, these supposedly independent bodies are also sabotaging their membership, and this is especially the case with the Police Service Commission headed by Paul Slowe, who was appointed by the previous APNU+AFC administration.
“How can they impartially discharge the functions of their office? That is why you have that implosion in the Police Force now. Now the public (can) see that there may be a sound basis for these Policemen who are claiming that they are the subject of victimisation and political discrimination by the Police Service Commission. The Police Service Commission is now telling the world and showing the world that it is politically partisan,” he posited.
In fact, Nandlall recalled recently that the PSC Chairman, Slowe, had requested that the Attorney General not appear on behalf of the Commission in court proceedings – a departure from the traditional practice.
“I didn’t object though, historically, the Attorney General has always appeared for the Service Commissions. So Mr Paul Slowe expressed a displeasure at the current Attorney General appearing for the Police Service Commission, but the very Mr Paul Slowe sees no difficulty in joining two APNU MPs – Mahipaul and McDonald – in an ongoing litigation being represented by Forde and Ramjattan and Trotman. He has a difficulty with the AG appearing, and it wasn’t me personally appearing, there are State Counsellors that would have been appearing.
“This is the kind of vulgarity that you and the country are witnessing from a grouping called the Police Service Commission, which is a constitutional agency of independent status. How can the [Guyana] Police Force and Police officers have confidence in a politically partisan body… We have to expose this duplicity and hypocrisy,” Nandlall stated.
Further, the Attorney General pointed out that by joining this political litigation, these constitutional bodies were also sabotaging their own budget allocation for the 2021 fiscal year.
“The case is about to stop the budget of these very agencies. So Paul Slowe and the Police Service Commission are going to the court to stop their own budget from being granted. Can you believe these people…You don’t care about your own budget not being granted! You’re joining political forces to ensure that your budget is not granted…,” he contended. (G8)