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Nov 29, 2017

C.C.J. Cannot Compel Bill Authorizing Payment to Pass

The Prime Minister is duty-bound to table a proposal in the House of Representatives at its next sitting requesting the appropriation of that eight-figure sum from the Consolidated Revenue Fund based on the ruling of the CCJ.  In tandem with the Crown Proceedings Act and the Constitution of Belize, the process that government now has to adhere to, according to the PM, will be executed but it does not mean the motion will pass.  The explanation offered began with a recognition that there has to be a separation of powers.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“This government believes in the rule of law and though bitterly disappointed in the CCJ, we recognize the judgment that it has handed down.  Accordingly, we will follow scrupulously the process set out by the CCJ, the Crown Proceedings Act and the Constitution.  That is, we will await the service of the certificate that the bank must procure from the registrar after twenty-one days, and then I will propose a supplementary appropriations bill to parliament.  What has to be made crystal clear, however, is that there is no certainty that such a bill will pass, and if it doesn’t pass, in my view, that is in no wise any violation of the rule of law or the separation of powers between the court and parliament.  Our constitution mandates adherence to the rule of law and the separation of powers.  But this is how the separation of powers works, the court, the CCJ, in the fullness of its power gives a judgment against the state.  So far, so good.  The court’s power also extends further so as to compel the executive to seek to satisfy the court’s judgment by asking parliament to vote the money to pay.  So far, also so good.  That is what I will do.  But that, as I conceive it, and as I am advised, is the end of the court’s power.  The separate power, that is why there’s a separation, the separate power of parliament is what then comes into play by way of its decision whether or not to vote the money; whether or not to satisfy the judgment.  The court no doubt expects that parliament will vote yes, but the court can expect anything.  What the court cannot do is to compel parliament to vote in any particular way, that is what would trample on parliament’s authority and violate the constitutionally mandate separation of powers.”

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