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90 million dollar Bukut will be taken to the house for approval! Vote your conscience, PM urges parliamentarians Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 November 2017 00:00

Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow on Wednesday November 29th held a press conference in which he explained what the government’s actions will be following the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling that the GOB should pay a 90 million dollar loan for the Universal Health Services. He explained that he has kept personal silence since last Wednesday’s judgment. During this period he noted that government ministers have expressed how they feel however he did not want to speak until he had considered all ramifications and done his research as well as seek legal advice.  He said he got that advice from two legal quarters and allowed himself to thoroughly discuss the matter with Cabinet.

After all the considerations and armed with the legal advice, the Prime Minister pointed out that while the bank won the case the CCJ refused to make the order to compel the Minister of Finance to pay to the bank the full amount of the award. This however was not done, “principally for the reason that even the CCJ is not bigger than our constitution. The CCJ is subject to the constitution of this country. And that constitution as the CCJ recognized and accepted is clear, that no money can be taken out of our consolidated revenue fund of this country for any purpose including to satisfy a judgement unless that money has first been appropriated by parliament for the specific purpose.”

With that then, PM Barrow noted that parliament would have to determine where that money is to come from. He additional stated that there is a procedure to be followed under the Crown Procedure Act. Under this Act, the party seeking payment must wait 21 days after which a certificate needs to be obtained from the registrar of the Supreme Court, stating the amount to be paid which would then be served on government. Thereafter the matter is taken to parliament for approval.

P.M. Barrow explained that, “this government believes in the rule of law and though it was bitterly disappointed in the CCJ, we recognize the judgment that it has handed down.” With that he said that, “we will follow scrupulously the process set up by the CCJ, the Crowns proceedings act and the constitution.” After this the Prime Minister will take it to the House. He noted however that there is no certainty that the bill will pass. If that were to happen then the government would not have violated the rule of law or the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary would be maintained.

In continuing, the Prime Minister noted that Governments usually would want to settle debts based on honor and responsibility but it is not always a certainty. In this issue, “Parliament is mandated to pass fair and correct laws, but it is equally free to and just as mandated not to pass laws that aren’t fair and aren’t correct.” “When it comes to the payment of a debt that is legally valid but is morally reprehensible, it is the essence of a country’s sovereignty and parliament’s authority that a decision can be made not to approve the law, not to approve the bill.”

As it relates to the voting, the Prime Minister asked that representatives vote their conscience. He went on to explain that if the bill does not pass it would mean that the liability will continue and may do so to wrack up a billion dollars but there is no other recourse to collect. There are multiple instance where this has been proven said the PM.