Court upholds decision allowing scrutiny of monies requested by constitutional agencies

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Five months after High Court judge Justice Nareshwar Harnanan dismissed an Opposition supported application that sought to halt the disbursement on budgetary sums to several constitutional agencies, the decision has been upheld by the Full Court following an appeal which was filed there.

The Notice of Application initially sought a number of Orders prohibiting the consideration, approval and ultimate scrutiny of budget sums for constitutional agencies.

Attorney and Opposition Parliamentarian Roysdale Forde, SC, along with a battery of lawyers from the APNU+AFC Coalition contended in February that an amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) was unconstitutional.

The amendment, which reversed the process of approving sums for these agencies without scrutiny, laid out a two-stage process whereby the budget of the constitutional agencies would be considered and approved by the National Assembly.

The ruling was appealed but on Friday last Justices Brassington Reynolds and Sandil Kissoon dismissed the appeal filed by Opposition Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul along with several opposition-aligned union representatives and members of some of those very constitutional agencies.

The constitutional agencies include the Judicial Service Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Teaching Service Commission, the Public Service Appellate Tribunal, the Public Procurement Commission, the Guyana Elections Commission, the Office Of The Ombudsman, the Ethnic Relations Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Women & Gender Equality Commission, the Indigenous Peoples Commission, the Rights Of The Child Commission, the Chambers Of The Director Of Public Prosecutions, the Office Of The Auditor General, Supreme Court Of Judicature, Parliament Office, the Speaker of The National Assembly, and the Clerk of the National Assembly.

According to a statement from Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, in addition to dismissing the appeal, the Full Court ordered and directed that $50,000 be paid to the Attorney General, the Minister of Finance, the Judicial Service Commission and the Speaker and Clerk of the National Assembly.

The appellants asked the Full Court to grant several Orders, including a declaration that the Constitutional Agencies are to function independently, impartially and free from the exercise of any control by the Executive and or any other entity and a declaration that the inclusion of the agencies as budget is inconsistent with the independence assured to those

Pending the decision, the applicants wanted the Court to halt the disbursement of budget sums that were already approved in the 2021 budget to the agencies.

But the Attorney General had argued that with the 2021 budget already passed and assented to by the President, the matter was overtaken by crucial events and the issues raised had become academic.

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