Was attorney general asleep at the wheel?
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?