… appointments reek of political biasness – NandlallPresident David Granger has announced the appointment of several judges andAttorney Vidyanand Persaudlawyers as Senior Counsel (SC). This is the first time in some 20 years such appointments have been made.The announcement was made in a statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency on Saturday morning. According to the release, the appointments will be effective from January 1, 2017, and were made taking into account the exemplary experience, erudition, excellence and diligence in the practice of theAttorney Neil Bostonlaw.The newly appointed Senior Counsel are: Neil Aubrey Boston, a trial lawyer for over 34 years; Charles John Ethelwood Fung-A-Fat, a Parliamentary Counsel and Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel for over 33 years; and Justice Alison Roxane McLean George-Wiltshire, who was admitted to the bar in 1990 and served as a Senior State Counsel, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Deputy Director of Public Prosecution and DirectorDeputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel Charles Fung-A-Fatof Public Prosecution.Also named Senior Counsel was Clifton Mortimer Llewelyn John, who was admitted in 1952 first as a solicitor and then as a barrister; and Rafiq Turhan Khan, admitted to the Bar in November 1984, appointed for his service as an advocate, member and Co-Chairman of the Legal Practitioners Committee.Additionally, Vidyanand Persaud, called to the Bar in London in JulyRegistrar of Lands Rosalie Robertson1976 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana the same year, was appointed for his service as an arbitrator in disputes and in private practice for 40 years; and Rosalie Robertson, a Legal Advisor and Corporate Secretary for 33 years as wellas Registrar of Lands.Justice Claudette Singh, called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976, was made SC for her service as the Deputy Solicitor General and as a Puisne Judge as well as a Justice of Appeal. She was also appointed for her leadership in spearheading the Modernisation of the JusticeJustice Roxanne George-WiltshireReform Project, and as the Guyana Police Force’s Legal Advisor.The ninth person to be appointed Senior Counsel by President Granger is AttorneyGeneral and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, who has over 33 years of law practice in both criminal and civil law.The last appointment of Senior Counsel were done in 1996. Back in May 2014, the Supreme Court of Guyana hadAttorney CM Llewellyn Johnadvertised for attorneys to take up the post of Senior Counsel. The notice invited attorneys who meet its criteria, which includes over 15 years of active practise at the Bar and are desirous of being elevated to the dignity of Senior Counsel, to make written applications.However, no such appointments were made until President Granger’s announcement on Saturday.Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since expressed “shock” atAttorney Rafiq Turhan Khanthe sudden appointments of Senior Counsel by the President.“These appointments were obviously done in a very opaque fashion. Some of the appointments reek of political bias and baseless favouritism. Persons deserving were spitefully and discriminatorily omitted,” he posited.According to Nandlall, the fact that a sitting Judge was appointed runs contrary to every canon of practice and precedent which dictates that Senior Counsel must be practicing lawyers. He noted that it was for this reason that the Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Ivor Archie, was forced to relinquish his appointment as Senior Counsel because he was a Judge and not a practicing lawyer when he was appointed.Likewise he added, the same obtained when Kamla Persaud-Bissessar wasLegal Affairs Minister Basil Williamsappointed Senior Counsel while being Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.Moreover Nandlall outlined that one of the persons appointed has never done a case of substance at the Bar. He went on too to question the rationale behind the omission of certain individuals, which he said are glaring.“On what basis was the current DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, omitted? As irregular as IJustice Claudette Singhbelieve it is for a Judge to be appointed, on what basis was one Judge appointed and the other Judges not, especially the Chancellor and Chief Justice?” asked the former Legal Affairs Minister.Furthermore Nandall enquired of the consultations done by the Coalition Government and/or President Granger in making the appointments, while adding that the slide into authoritarianism by this administration is moving faster than anticipated.
Financial Paper No. 2– as PPP highlights breaches of Fiscal Accountability ActLast Thursday, Government pushed financial paper No. 2 through the National Assembly, seeking more than $2.5B in supplemental funding. In that process, however, it breached the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA).Former Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill, speaking at a press conference on Saturday, disclosed that the FMAA had been breached, and referred specifically to the $89.8 million sought for the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) under the Ministry of Legal Affairs.“I asked the Minister of Legal Affairs on what authority are appropriations being made, when no appropriation had been made in the original budget of 2017,” Edghill related. “He couldn’t answer! The Minister of Finance tried to offer some arguments, even asking me if I’m suggesting something illegal was done.”Edghill continued: “I want to read from the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA), (specifically the part dealing with) authority to vary annual appropriations. The law says that when you vary the budget (submit an appropriations bill), new appropriations shall not be created.Section 22 (1) of the FMAA states: “The Minister may reallocate spending authority among annual appropriations during the fiscal year to which the appropriations relate, subject to the following restrictions”Minister of Finance, Winston JordanA perusal of the Act shows that appropriations can only be varied across programmes within the related budget agency. It also states that an appropriation for any programme cannot be varied by more than 10 per cent of the total sum. And subsection ‘D’ adds that “new appropriations shall not be created.”SARA was known as the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) before passage of the State Assets Recovery Bill 2017 in April. SARU had previously received allocations from budget 2017, and questions are being raised over the need to seek more money.According to Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, the unit fell under his ministerial responsibility and, as such, the Ministry would be making the purchase of the two pick-ups and furniture and other accessories to be turned over to SARA.Questioned on the allocations that had been made to SARU, the Legal Affairs Minister was unable to provide any answers since, according to him, the Unit fell under his remit only from May, 2017.“Do you know what this means, ladies and gentlemen and tax payers?” Edghill asked. “This is double-dipping. SARU has already received appropriations for the entire year under the Ministry of the Presidency. You now have SARA, the same thing as SARU, now under the Ministry of Legal Affairs,” he explained.“They are appropriating $89 million for current expenditure for an entity that has already had money appropriated towards it. They broke the law by creating a new appropriation rather than transferring the money. So that money will remain in the Ministry of the Presidency, and God knows where it will go,” Edghill detailed.A total of $89.9 million was voted as current expenditure, to cater for salaries, rental, utilities and other such recurring expenditure. These sums of money were represented as Line Item 52-521: Subsidy and Contribution to Local Organisations from the Legal Affairs Ministry, under Current Estimates.Under Capital Estimates, $13 million were approved for the purchase of two pick-up vehicles for the unit, because the agency “does not currently have any vehicles”.Another $13.4 million were approved for the purchase of furnishing and other equipment for the property being rented to house the agency.By the end of the session related to the Legal Affairs Ministry and SARA, in excess of $115 million had been approved by the coalition Government to operationalise SARA, despite the protestations of the Opposition.