AG refutes Trotman’s assertions on budget approval for constitutional agencies

Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall has refuted the assertions made by Opposition Member of Parliament Hon. Raphael Trotman that there was any illegality involved in the passing of the budgetary estimates for constitutional agencies.

“Mr. Raphael Trotman is completely wrong in his contention that there was some irregular process or there was some illegality that affected the presentation and approval of the budgetary estimates of those constitutional agencies,” AG Nandlall said, in an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) today. 

M.P. Trotman told the National Assembly that the Government had violated the Financial Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act of 2015 when it passed the budgetary estimates for constitutional agencies.

However, the Attorney General noted that it was the previous Government which amended the cited legislation, resulting in an adjustment in the manner in which budgets for constitutional agencies were presented in the National Assembly. According to the AG, those agencies’ budgets are to be submitted separately from the National Budget estimates.

Minister Nandlall asserted that the presentation was to be made by accounting officers within each constitutional agency to the Clerk of the National Assembly and Minister of Finance.

“We complied with that process in accordance with the letter and spirit of the amended promulgated by the APNU-AFC in 2015,” Mr. Nandlall said. 

It was noted that the 2015 amendment resulted in budgetary allocations being directly charged from the Consolidated Fund, whereby a lump sum disbursal is made to the constitutional agencies, excluding the possibility of parliamentary interrogation and scrutiny.

The Opposition had staged a walkout before the budgets for the constitutional agencies were passed.

According to the AG, “even if they [the APNU+AFC] were present [in the National Assembly], they could not have subjected those budgetary estimates to any form of interrogation or scrutiny.” 

The Minister also noted that the previous Government had slashed the budgets of constitutional agencies, thereby paving the way for the then Opposition to request from the Finance Minister, an explanation for the budget cuts.

“In this instance, our Minister of Finance did not interfere at all with any of the submissions made by the constitutional agencies. So, there was no need for any parliamentary intervention from the floor by Members of the National Assembly, in relation to those budgetary allocations,” AG Nandlall said.

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