A Partnership for National Unity calls on the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sherlock Isaacs, to fulfil the obligations of his office by sending four bills – the Local Government Commission Bill, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, the Municipal and District Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Fiscal Transfers Bill – to the President for his assent. These bills were passed by the National Assembly and were due to be presented to the President in accordance with the Constitution of t
he Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Standing Orders of the National Assembly.
APNU refers to Article 170 (2) of the Constitution which provides that, “When a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.” APNU refers, also, to Article 170 (3) which provides, “Where the President withholds his assent to a Bill, he shall return it to the Speaker within twenty-one days of the date when it was presented to him for assent with a message stating the reasons why he has withheld his assent.”
APNU recognises that these articles do not state who has the responsibility for presenting the said Bills to the President and that, until the President is presented with the Bills, the prescribed time cannot be said to have elapsed. Standing Order (S O) 67 of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, nevertheless, clearly reposes responsibility for the presentation of the said Bills to the President in the Clerk of the National Assembly.
Standing Order 67 prescribes that, “Every Bill passed by the Assembly shall remain in the custody of the Clerk who shall, subject to Article 164 of the Constitution, at the earliest opportunity, submit the Bill to the President for his or her assent.” The words “shall remain in the custody of the Clerk” are mandatory.
APNU notes the fact that, despite the Clerk’s being required to submit the Bills for assent “at the earliest opportunity,” that is to say without unnecessary delay, the four Bills which were passed on 7th of August 2013, over a month ago, seem not to have been presented to the President.
APNU considers that it would constitute a breach of the duty and an abdication of the specific responsibility of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the said Bills to be submitted to the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs after their passage by the National Assembly as there is no provision in the Constitution or Standing Orders authorising such a procedure.
APNU calls on the Clerk of the National Assembly, therefore, in accordance with the Constitution and Standing Orders, to discharge his responsibility to submit the said four Bills to the President for assent, forthwith.