Subsidiary laws must not contradict the constitution – Attorney General

-Rejects opposition’s proposed amendments to local government act

Reemphasising the fact that subsidiary legislation must not contradict the Constitution of Guyana, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, rejected proposals for amendments to the Local Government Commission Act.

The attorney general and other Government Members of Parliament (MPs) withheld their support for the bill during Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall during his presentation in the National Assembly

During the Private Members’ Business, Opposition MP Ganesh Mahipaul sought to push forward amendments to the Local Government Commission Act, to compel the commission to first receive recommendations from the councillors of a specific local government order.

Minister Nandlall dispelled the narrative that the amendment would improve the democratic functioning of local government agencies. He posited that such change would be in direct contradiction to the Constitution.

Relying on Article 226 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana, the AG highlighted that commissions must not be subject to the “direction or control of any other person or authority.”

“So, it is intra vires the constitution, and the constitution itself reinforces at article 226 that one can’t…derogate from the independence which constitutional bodies are endowed with,” he explained.

Additionally, the attorney general underscored Section Three of the very act, which explicitly agrees with the constitution, saying that in the Local Government Commission’s functions, “the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority.”

Further, the minister reminded the house that this act was passed in 2013, and had to receive support from the then majority opposition.

This, he said, was achieved to the greatest extent.

“The bill from the government went to the select committee with provisions to broaden the discretion…And you know what the policy position of the opposition was? The commission’s autonomy and independence must not be interfered with at all. Today, they come to interfere with and dilute the very independence,” the minister detailed.

The Local Government Commission is a constitutional and regulatory agency empowered to deal with all matters relating to the regulation and staffing of local government organs including employment and dismissal of staff and dispute resolution.