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Guyana’s Chief Justice rules that the National Assembly can approve or disapprove of the Budget

The Chief Justice has ruled that except for the Ethnic Relations Commission which is a Constitutional Body, the Minister of Finance CANNOT restore the funds cut in the National Assembly by way of an application to the court.

Chief justice Ian Chang today denied the minister of finance the “liberty to make advances/withdrawals from the consolidated fund for the purpose of restoring the funds to the agencies which were originally budgeted in the estimates of revenues and expenditure of Guyana for the year 2012 totalling 21 billion dollars “except” in respect of the ERC (the Ethnic Relations Commission) which was budgeted for the sum of $99 million to withdraw funds necessary from time to time for the maintenance of the secretariat and the constitutional functions of the ERC.

Additionally the CJ expressed the opinion that the National Assembly acted outside of its constitutional remit and should only approve or disapprove of the budget but not cut it. But with the President signing the Appropriation Bill into law, the cuts except for the Constitutional body will have to remain in place since the National Assembly had approved of the estimates under the same Appropriation Bill.

Both the Attorney General who made the application and one of the Attorneys Roysdale Forde for one of the parties involved pronounced on the ruling.

The Attorney General wanted the court to rule that the Minister of Finance could access funds for the running of key offices within the Office of the President among other agencies. The Court ruled that since the Constitution and Parliament have reposed power to take remedial action against the consequences of the those cuts or reduction in the Minister of Finance and not in the court, no Interim relief relating thereto (meaning restoration of the cuts) could be ordered by the court.

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