Parliament will remain open to approve spending

Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 November 2019, 13:22 by Writer

President David Granger says he has no immediate plan to dissolve Parliament because the House will have to approve additional spending in the absence of a 2020 National Budget.

“I cannot say now when Parliament will be dissolved. I will stay away from dissolution as long as there is a likelihood that we will need the vote of the whole parliament to pass any measure; financial measure,” he told reporters.

Mr. Granger says even though it is November, 2019, government has not drafted a budget for 2020 and “we have to be very prudent in our expenditure. It means that if there are any extraordinary expenditure arising out of any unanticipated situation”, such as an act of God, force majeure or any other.

“I feel it is prudent to keep the Parliament opened as long as possible,” the President said.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party has already vowed not to return to the 65-seat National Assembly on the grounds that the government is in office illegally because general elections ought to have been held already.

Mr. Granger has already declared March 2, 2020 as the date for general elections. Parliament has to be dissolved three months before the polls which makes it December 2, 2019.

The earlier than expected general elections follows an APNU+AFC government Member of Parliament Charrandass Persaud, on December 21, 2018, crossing the floor to help provide a majority passage of an Opposition People’s Progressive Party-sponsored no-confidence motion against the government.

The elections should have been held by March 21, 2019 – within three months of the motion’s passage – but the validity of the motion had been challenged right up to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

President Granger explains that because his administration is an interim one based on a CCJ decision that last December’s no-confidence motion was validly passed, Parliament will have to approve funds for national emergencies if the need arises.

“Unfortunately, because of urgent matters such as a flood or fire, we may need funds and only parliament could authorize the disbursement of funds which have not been provided for, even though we are in the eleventh month of the year,” he said.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan has said that in the absence of a national budget, due to the impending elections, government is authorized to spend one-twelfth of the 2019 budget next year for recurrent expenses and ongoing capital works.

He has said no new capital contracts will be signed during this period.