President Ramotar withholds assent to Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment Bill and the Former President’s Amendment Bill – 8th May 2013
On Tuesday, President Ramotar wrote Speaker of the National Assembly, Raphael Trotman, saying he would not assent to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment Bill and the Former President’s Amendment Bill.
When laws are passed, the President has 21 days to give his assent; if he chooses to withhold his assent, he has to send the Bills back to the National Assembly, explaining why.
The deadline for the President was more than up, given the the time when the two BIlls were passed by the opposition-controlled House. But in his letter, President Ramotar said he only received the Bills on Friday, raising many other questions. The Speaker said the Bills were sent to New Garden Street, since February 25th.
The President said he chose to withhold assent of the Bills on the basis that they were in violation of the Constitution.
Ramotar had previously vowed not give his assent to any opposition Bills passed without the support of Government.
Regarding the Fiscal Management and Accountability Amendment Bill, Ramotar said that it violated the Constitution because the Bill could not have been introduced by a private member, but rather only with the consent of the Cabinet, “signified by a Minister”.
That Bill was intended to declassify a range of agencies as budget agencies and have them draw funds directly from the Consolidated Fund.
President Ramotar said also, that the Former Presidents Facilities and Benefits Amendment Bill, violated the constitution. The Bill had intended to put a cap on what benefits former Presidents could receive in addition to their cash pension.
So far, former President Bharrat Jagdeo is the only one benefitting from the original Bill, taking home an estimated $1.2 million per month as a cash pension, plus unlimited staff and resources. The 2009 law only says former Presidents are entitled to vehicles and staff, without specifying a direct umber.
With President Ramotar withholding his assent of the opposition Bill to put a limit to the staff, vehicles and other benefits, Jagdeo continues to benefit from the orinal Bill, which he himself signed into law back in 2009.