Justice Nareshwar Harnanan today refused to grant conservatory orders requested by Roysdale Forde SC, who, on behalf of his clients, sought to restrain the Senior Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Ashni Singh, from disbursing funds to several constitutional agencies, in keeping with estimates in the Appropriation Act 2021 (Act 5 of 2021).
The effect of the ruling is that Minister Singh is legally free to disburse funds to these agencies in keeping with the said act.
Additionally, owing to various reasons, including the contention by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, that the Notice of Application should have never been brought, Justice Harnanan granted costs in favour of the Attorney General in the amount of $200,000.
This ruling of Justice Harnanan relates to a Notice of Application filed along with a Fixed Date Application, both filed on 22nd February 2021. In the Fixed Date Application (the substantive action), the Applicants are contending that amendments to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act are unconstitutional.
During today’s hearing, the Attorney General, appearing in person, and in association with Nigel Hawke, Solicitor General; Deborah Kumar, Deputy Solicitor General; and Chevy Devonish, State Counsel, submitted that all of the Orders requested in the Notice of Application have been overtaken.
This is due to the fact that the Appropriation Act 2021 was passed on 4th March 2021, and the Minister of Finance likely in the process of effecting disbursements. As such, the Attorney General submitted, the Notice of Application raised issues that are now merely academic, and which, as a matter of law, should not be entertained by the Court.
The Applicants in the Fixed Date Application and Notice of Application-Urgent are: Ganesh Mahipaul; Coretta McDonald, General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union; Dawn Gardner,
First Vice President of the Guyana Public Service Union; Michael Somersall, Chairman of the Public Service Commission; Clinton Conway, Member of the Police Service Commission; the Police Service Commission; and Allan Munroe, the Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission.