Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has taken umbrage to comments made by Coalition Member of Parliament (MP), Roysdale Forde, about the government flirting with Constitutional breach with respect to the laying of the statement of expenditure in the House.
The minister says that the contention is misplaced and represents a shocking lack of understanding of the Constitution by the Opposition.
The contention is that Article 219 (3) of the
Constitution is being violated because the Government has not yet laid before the National Assembly a Statement of Expenditure, which they claim should have been laid before the consideration of the National Estimates.
On Monday last, the opposition raised a similar objection from the floor, to which Nandlall responded. The Speaker, Manzoor Nadir, ruled that the minister was correct.
Nandlall said that in defiance of that ruling, the coalition has issued a statement on a matter that has already been ventilated, and ruled.
The 11th Parliament was dissolved on December 30, 2019
and was not convened within three months, but instead was convened until September 1, 2020 (9 months after).
Up until the new Government was sworn in on August 2, 2020, the former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, would have been authorizing withdrawals of monies from the Consolidated Fund, allegedly, for the purpose of meeting
expenditure on the public service.
From August 2, 2020, the Minister of Finance designated by President Dr. Irfaan Ali, would have continued this process and indeed, must practically continue this process until the Appropriation Bill is laid, Nandlall argued.
“It is when that Bill is laid that the Statement of Expenditure of all the monies spent up to that time is then merged into the Appropriation Bill. The Statement of Expenditure cannot come earlier because monies continue to be spent without appropriation, even during the budget debates and the consideration of the National Estimates,” the Minister explained.
Nandlall said that APNU+AFC’s objection is not only premature, but is wholly without merit, the AG said.
He noted that when the issue was raised in the House, last Monday, he pointed out the same to the Speaker and indicated that the Statement of Expenditure will come with the Appropriation Bill, in compliance with Article 219 (3) of the Constitution.
“The least the APNU+AFC speaks about the Constitution, the better,” he concluded.