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  • Govt’s caretaker status puts State contracts at risk – PSC

    first_img…advises members to seek legal adviceThe uncertain footing of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government has put private sector contracts with the State at risk— a possibility heavily criticised by the Private Sector Commission (PSC).Despite the CCJ rulings, the Government said in a statement recently that Cabinet had not stopped functioningIn a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, the PSC slammed the behaviour of President David Granger and his Government, who despite being toppled by a No-Confidence Motion, have been criticised for seeming reluctant to go to the polls and comply with the Constitution and Court rulings.“It is the Private Sector’s view that the President, by his behaviour, has put at risk all private sector entities and other organisations made subject to contracts and any other action authorised by the Cabinet, by presuming them to be legal. The Private Sector Commission has, therefore, advised its members to seek legal advice in this regard,” the Commission stated.According to the PSC, the President announcing that Cabinet shall continue to function is “totally unacceptable”, noting that this means that the President is refusing to honour the Constitution of Guyana.Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence”.Meanwhile, Article 106 (7) states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election”.“It is totally unacceptable, therefore, to the Commission that the President has refused to honour the Constitution in announcing that the Cabinet shall continue to function. The Caribbean Court has stated that “by convention, the Government is expected to behave during this interim period as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority,” the PSC made clear.CaretakerSince the Government fell to the no-confidence vote on December 21, 2019, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has always maintained that the Government should be acting in a caretaker capacity only and not be entering into large scale contracts.Jagdeo’s position was vindicated by the CCJ on Friday last when it ruled that the Government should be in a caretaker status. CCJ President Adrian Saunders had outlined that the Cabinet, including the President, should have already been resigned, thus, reaffirming that the APNU/AFC coalition is, in fact, and should be in a caretaker mode leading up to elections.“Article 106 envisaged that the tenure in office of the Cabinet, including the President after the Government’s defeat, is on a different footage from that which existed prior to the vote of no-confidence…By convention, the Government is expected to behave, during this interim period, as a caretaker and so restrain the exercise of its legal authority. It is this caretaker or interim role that explains the three-month deadline in the first instance that the Article lays down in principle for the holding of fresh elections,” Justice Saunders stated.Since the post-judgement hearing at the CCJ last month, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) lawyer Stanley Marcus and Attorney General Basil Williams had both argued that the Article 106 (7) provision meant the President and his Cabinet had to remain in power until after a new President was sworn in.But CCJ Judge Justice Jacob Wit had also debunked this argument. He had noted that it is international practice that following a successful No-Confidence Motion, a caretaker Government is usually left in place with a limited timeframe in which to carry out snap elections.He had made it clear that contrary to the Government’s arguments, a provision for a caretaker Government does not have to be explicit in the Constitution, as this is a standard and recognised international practice.On January 18, it had been announced that Cabinet noted the award of a total of 36 contracts that went through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). These multi-million dollar contracts ranged from the construction and rehabilitation of roads to the construction of pump stations and the supply of fibre optic cables to the National Data Management Authority.In a statement a few days ago, the coalition Government claimed that it accepted its “interim” status, but that it would continue to function in the interest of the State and that Cabinet has not stopped functioning.last_img read more