Opposition raises concern over $109M allocated for legal fees; Budget for Legal Affairs approved
Havoc broke loose in the National Assembly this afternoon as the Opposition and Government sides clashed over the allocation of monies for the Ministry of Legal Affairs,under several headings, which exceeded the sum catered for in the budget, without a supplementary financial paper.
Opposition Members of Parliament, Anil Nandlall and Irfaan Ali sought clarifications from Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Basil Williams pointing out that under the heading “Strengthening the Criminal Justice System,” an amount of $75M was budgeted, while $113M was expended.
In response Minister Williams said it was an “inadvertent mistake” by the Ministry of Finance.
He lashed out at the Opposition MPs for making a speculation without proof deeming it an “erroneous assumption premised on the allegation that there is no supplementary,” noting that its intent was to mislead the public.
Meanwhile,under Law Reform the Minister envisages the constitution of a Law Reform Committee and pointed out that Law Reform should be distinguished from Law Revision.
Questioned About the $10M Budgeted for Institutional strengthening, the Attorney General said the amount would be used for training of Law Enforcement Officers, since the bulk of the work under the Canadian Funded project has been completed.
He told the Committee of Supply that some $115M was already expended.
Another area of contention was two budgeted amounts of $60M and $10M respectively for the purchase of equipment. In this regard, Minister Williams said as far as he is aware all equipment was already deployed in 2016.
Opposition MP Nandlall raised deep concern over the allocation of $109M for legal fees for a lawyer outside of the AG Chambers, an area that resulted in a back and forth in the Committee of Supply.