The A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition has moved to the High Court to throw out the National Assembly’s decision to approve some $11.2 billion for 23 constitutional agencies.
The Fixed Date Application (FDA) was filed by Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde and Attorney-at-law Olayne Joseph on behalf of APNU/AFC Member of Parliament (MP) and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), David Patterson.
Patterson claimed that the purported consideration and approval of the Budget Proposals of the Constitutional agencies by the National Assembly on September 1, 2020, is in breach of Section 80 B (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of 2015.
As a result, he contends that the consideration and or approval of the Budget and or Budget Proposal of the Audit Office of Guyana without the prior submission to the National Assembly by the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee is bad in law, null and of no legal effect.
Patterson noted that the National Assembly’s failure to circulate the Budget Proposals of the Constitutional agencies to members of the APNU/AFC is also a breach of Section 80 B (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of 2015.
As a consequence, the PAC Chairman is seeking an order directed to the Minister of Finance or Minister performing the functions of the Minister of Financial Secretary, their servants’ agents or whosoever from making or causing any disbursement to be made of any sums in favour of Constitutional agencies purportedly considered and approved by the National Assembly on September 1, 2020.
Moreover, the APNU/AFC Member of Parliament is asking for an order “prohibiting the Minister of Finance or Minister performing the functions of the Minister of Finance, the Financial Secretary from including the purported Budget appropriation for the Constitutional Agencies in the estimates of the Public Sector in accordance with Section 80 B (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of 2015 pursuant to the purported approval of the National Assembly on September 1, 2020.”
In supporting his claims, Patterson noted that Section 80 B (2) of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act of 2015 requires a Chairperson of the PAC to submit the Budget of the Audit Office to Parliament.
Patterson said that this was not done at the 12th Parliament of Guyana, given that he was appointed on September 16, 2020.
“As a member of the National Assembly, it is right and proper that the Applicant insist and demand that there be full and complete compliance with the relevant statutory requirements to ensure compliance with the provision of the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act of 2015,” Patterson said in the application.
The respondents are the Attorney General and Minister of Finance.
During the passage of the budgetary estimates for constitutional agencies, Attorney General Anil Nandlall noted that it was the previous Government that amended the cited legislation, resulting in an adjustment in how budgets for constitutional agencies were presented in the National Assembly.
According to the AG, those agencies’ budgets are to be submitted separately from the National Budget estimates.
It was noted that the 2015 amendment resulted in budgetary allocations being directly charged from the Consolidated Fund, whereby a lump sum disbursal is made to the constitutional agencies, excluding the possibility of parliamentary interrogation and scrutiny.
The Opposition had staged a walkout before the budgets for the constitutional agencies were passed.