By Kurt Campbell
[www.inesguyana.com] – Opposition Leader David Granger on Monday (January 13) expressed disappointment following a ruling earlier in the day by Justices James Bovell-Drakes and Rishi Persaud on the appeal in the Budget Cuts case.
The two Justices ruled that the full Court has no jurisdiction in the matter and that the appeal which was filed by Attorney-at-Law Basil Williams was ill conceived.
Williams had moved to the full Court to appeal a decision taken by Chief Justice Ian Chang which excluded Opposition Leader David Granger from the Budget Cut case.
The Opposition Leader maintains that he has a right to be heard in the case and that the National Assembly has a right to reduce budget estimates.
He confirmed initial plans of his Attorney to move to the Court of Appeal within the next 14 days. Granger says if that fails then he is prepared to go as far as the Caribbean Court of Justice. “This is a serious constitutional matter.”
Government had taken the Opposition to court following the slashing of the 2012 National Budget by $20.9 billion claiming it was unconstitutional.
On June 19, Chief Justice Ian Chang took the decision to strike out the Opposition Leader as well as Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh as defendants in the 2012 Budget cuts case, on the basis that, as members of Parliament, the constitution provides immunity.
On July 18, 2012, in a preliminary ruling, the Chief Justice had stated that the National Assembly has no power under the Constitution to reduce the National Estimates when they are presented for approval.
The ruling stated that in relation to the National Estimates, the National Assembly “performs a gate-keeping function, a power of disapproval is not contemplated by the Constitution.”