The People’s United Party (PUP) is seeking to put an end to the frequent presentations of supplementary allocations to the national budget, by the Barrow administration. The matter has been lodged in the courts since early March and today, it saw its second adjournment. Attorney Andrew Marshalleck spoke of the case and what spurred the PUP to file the application in the courts.
Andrew Marshalleck SC- PUP Attorney: “Well as you know we filed a claim challenging the constitutionality of the retrospective appropriation or monies from the consolidated revenue fund. For the past ten to fifteen years it has become almost routine that Government overspends whatever funds are budgeted and then come back after the fact for approval for the spending of monies that already have been spent. These normally take the form of Supplementary Appropriation Bills and there are some twenty-two of them that have been passed and we are challenging the constitutionality of them. We say that appropriations or monies from the fund must be prospective, you cannot come back and do it after the fact. The primary remedies being sought are the declarations as to the constitutionality of that practice first off but in terms of relief, we are asking for a permanent injunction restraining the Prime Minister and the Financial Secretary from embarking on that type of spending in the future. We are in very early stages, a defense was only served this morning, after the defense, we will have a first hearing in which the case will be managed and directions will be given as to how it will proceed. I expect it will take in the usual case over the next year. The next adjournment date is for May, the second week in May. I expect the directions will be given as to exchange of submissions and the likes of time will be given for that. Those will be exchanged, then a trial date will be fixed and we will come and hear the case.”
The PUP claims that the Barrow administration has acted in contravention of the Constitution of Belize and the Finance and Audit Reform Act and that the amount of General Revenue Supplementary Appropriations is in the sum of one point three billion dollars, all without the prior approval of the National Assembly. The opposition is aiming to get a permanent injunction against future appropriations without the approval of the House. According to Julius Espat, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, this move in the courts is to put the proper processes in place and to have them respected by all parties in power, not just the Barrow administration. The case has been adjourned until May 13.