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Chief Justice Ian Chang excludes Opposition Leader & the Finance Minister from 2012 Budget Cuts hearing – 19th Jun 2013

shot0003The opposition is contending that the Chief Justice’s ruling could have serious implications for the practice of law locally.

The Chief Justice said that by virtue of the fact that the Opposition Leader David Granger and the Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh are sitting Members of Parliament and thus they are immune from such court proceedings.

The Chief Justice nevertheless ruled that the Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman could appear as a respondent in the case, since he is not a voting Member of Parliament.

Lead Attorney for Granger, Basil Williams, said that this ruling of the Chief Justice has negative implications for the development of the law.

The Chief Justice’s ruling has been welcomed by the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who said that today’s decision is another step closer to resolving the impasse.

The case stems from last year’s budget cuts. The combined opposition, which has control of the House, reduced last year’s budget by $21.9 billion Guyana dollars.

The Government then took to the court to block the National Assembly from cutting the budget, and Justice Chang in a preliminary ruling said the opposition could only approve or disapprove of the budget in its entirety.

The Speaker of the House subsequently ruled that the courts have no oversight responsibility or powers over the legislature and that the National Assembly could indeed cut Government expenditure.

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