‘Interim Gov’t means we do not pass a budget’ –President Granger
Despite commencing preparations for the presentation of Budget 2020 later this year, the Coalition Government in its interim status has accepted that it does not have the authority to pass budgets.
This was expressed by President David Granger on Friday during an interview with Assistant Director of the Press and Publicity Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, Ariana Gordon.
Following the handing down of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling on the successful passage of the December 21 no-confidence motion, the President said the Executive accepts its interim status as a “caretaker Government” as provided for by the Constitution.
But while noting that the Constitution does not define interim status, the President admitted that it strips the Executive of some of its authority – one being their ability to pass a national budget.
“There is nothing in the constitution which defines interim status. But in jurisdictions which adhere to the Westminster system, Canada, Australia, and other countries, we have consulted with the laws and interim Government means that we do not, you know, for example, pass a budget,” the Head-of-State conceded.
Even while noting that the Government has to be kept “running” until General Elections are held, the President reiterated that it now has to limit its spending because of its status.
“We obviously have to keep Government running; routine functions of Government. I cannot undertake State visits and sign agreements with foreign countries. We have to limit our expenditure. We have to ensure that we do not embark on any controversial projects,” the President said.
At the same time, however, he was adamant that the Government does not cease to exist or function because of its interim status. As such, he said the Executive will be guided by the laws and principles which speak directly to an interim status in Westminster systems.
“We accept the status as an interim Government and we are not going to breach the convention” he added.
Following the June 18 ruling of the CCJ that the Government was defeated by passage of the no-confidence motion, the Ministry of Finance issued a circular to commence preparations for Budget 2020.
Debates, according to the circular, were scheduled for November – one-month shy of the time the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said it would be prepared to host elections.
Subsequently, Finance Minister Winston Jordan pushed ahead with the sensitisation and training process for the 2020 Budget at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. His views at that time were that the Constitution does not provide for a caretaker Government and that Parliament has not been dissolved; thereby allowing for the Budget to be presented and possibly passed.