In light of the ruling of Justice Roxane George on the no-confidence resolution in favour of the Opposition, Minister of State Joseph Harmon continues to execute the Government’s business as normal.Minister of StateJoseph HarmonIn Saturday’s Official Gazette, dated February 2, 2019, under Government Notices, the Minister of State’s signature was affixed to Cabinet’s approval for the Board of Directors of several State bodies; some of which have life until the end of 2019 while others were extended into 2020.With the High Court’s ruling late last week, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive and former Attorney General under its tenure, Anil Nandlall, told members of the media that the Party is likely to address the measures implemented by Cabinet after December 21, 2018 to see if those actions are illegal. However, in the document reviewed by Guyana Times, Minister Harmon’s cemented approval of Cabinet’s previous considerations for Board members on January 23, 2019 which would be some 33 days after the No-confidence Motion was passed. It was also one week before the acting Chief Justice handed down her determination in the no-confidence matter.Attorney-at-law Anil NandlalThese potentially contentious State Boards that Government sought to give official approval in late January included the 15-member National Standards Council (January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019); the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) to be headed by Donald Sinclair (effective February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020); the VAT Appeal Tribunal (June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2019) and the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CACC) (February 1 2019 to January 31, 2019) – both headed by attorney Ronald Burch-Smith. Additionally, following submission by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, Cabinet considered Board members for the country’s lead financial institution, the Bank of Guyana, approving Governor Gobind Ganga as Chairman and Leslie Glenn as Deputy Chairman.It is not clear if all or any of the appointments will stand if court action against Cabinet’s post-December 21, 2018 decisions is favourable. “There is no Cabinet in force in Guyana currently and that is very important…if they are illegal, those are issues we will have to take into account and address,” Nandlall vehemently expressed last week when he stated that Cabinet has already been “resigned”.It was after Justice George declared that the 33-32 majority meant the motion was carried, that she observed that the President and the Ministers cannot remain in Government after three months which expires in March. This, she said, is in keeping with Articles 106 (6) and 106 (7). Article 106 (6) of the Constitution 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, 106 (7) goes on to state that, “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.”What this says is that Government will remain in office until the next President in sworn in but not the Cabinet which advises the President. The Judge also held that the resignation of Cabinet does not result in the dissolution of Parliament as this is within the President’s remit to do so and call elections. It was further observed that resignation of the Cabinet does not result in the dissolution of Government as Cabinet is a subset of Government.
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