Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is contending that parliament does not need to be in effect for the government to access contingency funds should a disaster come knocking.
He was at the time commenting on recent utterances made by President David Granger who, earlier this week, gave justification for not dissolving parliament.
The President said, “if there are any extraordinary expenditure rising out of any unanticipated situation whether it is an act of God, a force of nature or any other, I feel it is prudent to keep the Parliament opened as long as possible,”
Granger added, “I cannot say now when Parliament will be dissolved. I will stay away from dissolution as long as there is a likelihood that we will need the vote of the whole parliament to pass any financial measure.”
This rationale, however, is not sitting well with Jagdeo who, at a recent conference, labelled the Head of State’s explanation as “silly”.
“He has to dissolve parliament…And using this silly excuse that parliament should be open to get money for disasters. There is a contingency fund. The government has access to the Contingency Fund. Parliament doesn’t have to exist to have access to the contingency fund,” Jagdeo argued.
He added that even though the government will not be able to pass a budget for 2020 this year, there are provisions where spending agencies are held to one-twelfth of the previous year’s allocation. That, he noted, will provide some cushion should a disaster arise.
Article 220 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states, “Parliament may make provision for the establishment of a contingency fund and for authorising the minister responsible for finance to make advances from that fund if he or she is satisfied that there is an urgent need for expenditure for which no other provision exists.”
Meanwhile, 220 (2) says, “Where any advance is made from the contingencies fund a supplementary estimate shall, as soon as practicable be late before the National Assembly by the minister responsible for finance or any other minister designated by the president for the purpose of authorising the replacement of the amount so advanced.