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Opposition must deal with consequences of no-confidence vote- Ramotar

Parliament Building

President Donald Ramotar on Friday said his administration was ready for early general elections if the opposition-controlled National Assembly approves a no-confidence motion in the government but they would have to answer the electorate on number of key issues.

Responding to Alliance For Change (AFC) leader Khemraj Ramjattan’s letter, the Guyanese leader said the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was ready for the resignation of the entire cabinet if a no-confidence vote is passed by the 65-seat House.

“As I have said publicly before, the PPP/Civic and I are prepared to face the consequences of such a motion and the electorate,” he said.

The President reiterated to Ramjattan that government was constitutionally and legally right in first spending from the Consolidated Fund and seeking parliamentary approval.

Ramotar cautioned that if the combined opposition used its one-seat majority and passed a no-confidence motion, those parties would have to explain why they never supported several key infrastructural projects. He used his response to mudsling the AFC and APNU, charging that they had once advocated the closure of the sugar industry.  Those two parties have since said they are in favour ensuring that the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) was properly managed.  The President also seized the opportunity to attack a member of the AFC’s hierarchy.

The AFC Leader earlier Friday released his correspondence to President Ramotar, stating that since the government appeared unwilling to stop abusing its power a no-confidence vote would be the only route,

Following is the full text of President Ramotar’s response to the AFC’s Leader’s letter.

I received your letter dated 17th July, 2014 today, July 12, 2014.

Let me from the inception say that it is your constitutional right to lay a no- confidence motion in the National Assembly.

However, the pretext that you have chosen to ground your motion is completely baseless and spurious.

I resolutely maintain that the actions taken by my government about which you complain are expressly authorised and permitted by both the letter and spirit of the constitution. Indeed, you yourself participated in this identical process in the years 2012 and 2013 by supporting Financial Papers 1 of 2012 and 1 of 2013.

Article 218 (3) is unambiguous in allowing for expenditure to be incurred in the absence, or in excess of available appropriations as approved in the extant Appropriations Act. That Article reads thus:

 “In respect of any financial year it is found… that any moneys have been expected for any purpose in excess of the amount appropriated for that purpose by the Appropriation Act or for a purpose for which no amount has been appropriated by that Act… a statement of excess showing the amounts… spent shall be laid before the National Assembly by the Minister responsible for Finance…”

The Honourable Chief Justice, Mr. Ian Chang in his 18 July, 2012 ruling on the budget cuts case is equally unambiguous. He states thus:

“The application of article 218(3) is premised on a finding of insufficiency of an appropriate amount for a stated purpose or of no amount for a purpose for which a need has arisen and which has received no appropriation it is not this court to substitute itself for the Minister of Finance. It is he who must make the perquisite “finding” under Article 218(3) of the constitution…”

As I have said publicly before, the PPP/Civic and I are prepared to face the consequences of such a motion and the electorate.

It will give us the opportunity to demand that the AFC explains to the Guyanese people their denial of them having cheap energy by opposing the Hydro Power Station at Amaila. In so doing, you have opposed the industrialisation of our country and the creation of decent jobs for our people, particularly our young people.

You will have a chance to explain why you have voted against giving the Guyanese people better health care due to your opposition to a specialty hospital. Moreover, you will clarify for the electorate whether it was because your client lost out in the bidding process to construct the complex.

It will be a good occasion for you to explain to the people if your opposition to the construction of a Marriott Hotel was rooted in the fact that your chief financier is also in the hotel business.

It will give you the opportunity to explain to the Guyanese people how and why the Chairman of your party interfered with the judicial process causing the persons who were charged with the Lusignan massacre to walk free.

An opportunity will be presented for you to explain why you partnered with the APNU calling for the closing down of the sugar industry thereby jeopardising the lives and livelihood of thousands of sugar workers and their families.

You will explain to the Guyanese people why you cut budgetary allocations to the indigenous people affecting development in their communities. Indeed, you will explain to all the people of this country, especially the poor people, why you cut monies out of the national budget which were allocated to improve and advance their welfare and that of their children, for example, the poverty alleviation initiatives, including the student loans and uniform and transportation allowances for school children.

You will explain why you opposed the Anti Money Laundering Bill thereby exposing our country to international sanctions and our people to economic and financial hardships.

Of course, I can continue but I think the point is made.

In conclusion, I reiterate that I will never stand in the way of any person or political party seeking to exercise any constitutional right, power or freedom which they enjoy.