Was at­tor­ney gen­eral asleep at the wheel?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Rick Wayne

Ac­cord­ing to a well-loved story by the Brothers Grimm, in the Mid­dle Ages when the good peo­ple of Hamelin were over­run by nasty rats in ties, the vil­lagers con­tracted a weirdly at­tired mu­si­cian with a fake di­a­mond in his ear to en­tice the vec­tors out of their holes and into the Weser River where they per­ished in their mil­lions.

It seems the so-called Pied Piper’s mu­sic was to me­dieval pesti­lence as ir­re­sistible as is the word “Rochamel” to their cur­rent-day lo­cal equiv­a­lent, those per­pet­ual de­fend­ers of the in­de­fen­si­ble, some­times re­ferred to as the PDIs.

Not that they are im­me­di­ately dis­cernible from the common rat. But for their pre­dictable re­ac­tion once the R-word has reached their tym­panic mem­brane it would be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to tell a PDI from, say, that sec­tion of our Rock of Sages so­ci­ety that be­lieves in the magic of boloms and gens gage. A huge sec­tion, I might add, doubt­less de­serv­ing of credit for our huge strides in the field of sci­ence.

But I must re­sist di­gress­ing too far. I was hint­ing at the strange be­hav­ior that the mere men­tion of Rochamel in­spires in cer­tain sec­tions of our great and won­der­ful na­tion that has pro­duced not just one but two Nobel win­ners.

Even the most ar­tic­u­late among us will un­abashedly re­sort to gib­ber­ish in their ef­forts to con­fuse the Mart­i­nus Fran­cois v The At­tor­ney Gen­eral suit (ac­tu­ally it was Fran­cois vs Tony Astaphan!) with the other mat­ter that last year ended up be­fore the Ram­sa­hoye Com­mis­sion.

In the first in­stance it was Fran­cois’ con­tention that fi­nance min­is­ters did not have the le­gal au­thor­ity in Saint Lu­cia to guar­an­tee bank loans for pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als or com­pa­nies.

The high court judge In­dra Hariprasad agreed but was over­turned by our ap­peal court, al­beit con­tro­ver­sially.

The last men­tioned had de­ter­mined that fi­nance min­is­ters were in­deed con­sti­tu­tion­ally au­tho­rized to guar­an­tee loans against the Con­sol­i­dated Fund. How­ever, should such en­ti­ties, for what­ever rea­sons, find them­selves un­able to meet their bank com­mit­ments the gov­ern­ment’s guar­an­tee would be worth­less with­out par­lia­men­tary ap­proval.

Yes, so on that ba­sis Fran­cois’ case bit the dust. But the lawyer’s loss proved the peo­ple’s gain. As a di­rect con­se­quence of Fran­cois’ de­feat it be­came clear some­thing needed to be done about the loop­hole in the fi­nance act that had per­mit­ted reck­less fi­nance min­is­ters to take of­fi­cially un­ap­proved risks with the peo­ple’s money.

That par­tic­u­lar re­quire­ment was fur­ther un­der­scored by the Ram­sa­hoye Com­mis­sion when in ef­fect it rec­om­mended that fi­nance min­is­ters must in all cir­cum­stances re­ceive prior House ap­proval be­fore giv­ing loan guar­an­tees.

This week the Se­nate agreed that “a guar­an­tee in­volv­ing any fi­nan­cial li­a­bil­ity is not bind­ing on gov­ern­ment un­less the min­is­ter grants the guar­an­tee in ac­cor­dance with an en­act­ment or with the prior ap­proval of par­lia­ment by a res­o­lu­tion of par­lia­ment.”

For­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Doddy Fran­cis: Did he be­tray

the peo­ple’s trust by his inat­ten­tive­ness?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.