The High Court Wednesday ruled that legislators had no powers to amend the budget of the finance minister as it ruled in favour of the government in the long running dispute regarding the 2012 national budget.
In a 21-opage ruling, Chief Justice Ian Chang said that “while the (National) Assembly may approve or not approve the Minister’s estimates of expenditure, it has no power to amend those estimates by way of reduction (or of increase).
“It is the executive Minister’s estimates and it is he who must amend them to obtain the Assembly’s approval so that the Cabinet may recommend or consent to the presentation of an Appropriation Bill to the Assembly for passing for the purpose of charging those estimates to the Consolidated Fund,” he said.
The Donald Ramotar administration had gone to the court in June 2012 challenging the cuts made to the national budget, arguing that the opposition-controlled National Assembly had no power to reduce or set public spending.
“The government has been vindicated. We have resolutely maintained over the last two years that the clear language of the Constitution as well as the doctrine of separation of powers prevent the opposition in the National Assembly from cutting the National Estimates,” said Attorney General Anil Nandlall.
Political observers say the latest court ruling could lead to further litigation since Justice Chang had ruled that the previous action by the opposition of cutting the budget was unlawful.