The Guyana government on Tuesday agreed to “insulate” the judiciary from financial control of the executive by setting aside a lump sum money for it to spend as it sees fit in keeping with rules of accountability.
Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh announced the decision to the National Assembly’s Committee of Supply which is considering estimated expenditures for the 2014 National Budget.
“We are in effect seeking to make the judiciary insulated from financial control of the Executive and that is my expectation certainly,” said Committee Chairman, Raphael Trotman.
The announcement by Singh has ended months of battle by the combined opposition for the Supreme Court to exercise the right to draw monies directly from the Consolidated Fund rather than with the approval of the Executive.
The Finance Minister explained that in keeping with an earlier indication on the first day of consideration of the estimates, the budgeted allocations would be reduced to the last eight months and collapsed into a lump sum. In the case of this year, that would amount GUY$ to more than GUY$800 million.
All that would be required, he said, would be for money to be allocated after the Supreme Court’s budget has been considered and subsequently approved by the National Assembly.
Guyana’s revised Constitution provides for the expenditure of a number of entities to be financed as a direct charge after a review and approval of their budgets. The entities are responsible for managing their subvention as they see fit. They also include GECOM, the services commissions and the Office of the Auditor General.
A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU), Carl Greenidge observed that there were other dimensions of independence that would have to be addressed. “That is one step probably in what is a multi-stepped process,” he said. The Chairman of the Committee of Supply remarked that “ëven if we have heated discussions, in the end we achieve something.”