Opposition Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

A lawyer and opposition lawmaker is accusing the government of misbehaviour in office over the use of government overdraft. 

Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who is a senator and candidate for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), said on her party’s “New Times” programme on NICE Radio on Friday that the law is clear on the matter.

In his Feb. 4 contribution to the Budget Debate, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said that the government was breaking the Finance Administration Act on three counts.

He said that the government was exceeding the overdraft facility that Parliament had authorised it to run at a commercial bank.

Also, the government did not repay the overdraft by the end of the financial year in which it was used, Friday said.

Further, the government was converting to a loan, without parliamentary approval, the overdraft amount in excess of what parliament had authorised.

However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had said that Friday does not understand the law and has further stated that every government has acted as he did.

And, Bacchus-Baptiste said that what Gonsalves said was “a little more than just that he erred, because this man is a legal trained person and he knows what the borrowing law says”.

The senator noted sections 44 and 45 of the Finance Administration Act.

The law says that no money shall be raised on the credit of the government except under the authority of that law or another act or a resolution of the House of Assembly.

“Clearly government borrowing power stems from an Act of Parliament or the Finance Administration Act. So, you must come to the House of Assembly. Why? Because these are the people who, under the Constitution, are given the power to lead and to make decisions,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.

She noted that Section 45 of the Finance Administration Act says that the minister may in a financial year, when authorised by resolution of the House of Assembly, borrow money to meet current requirements from a bank or other financial institution by means of advances to an amount not exceeding in the aggregate, the sum specified in the resolution.

Subsection 2 says a resolution referred in subsection one shall have effect for a period not exceeding 12 months.

Subsection three says the power to borrow money by means of advances from a bank or other financial institution conferred upon the minister by resolution in accordance with this section or in pursuance of any act may be exercised by means of a fluctuating overdraft.

“So that the power is there to borrow but you have to borrow within the confines of the law, or you would be acting illegally, ultra vires,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.  

“And I would say it would amount to misbehaviour in public office. You cannot just go willy-nilly and borrow. Imagine if you are the accountant or someone in charge of finance in a company, and you go and borrow money outside the authority to borrow it, you could be facing real serious, serious problems.

“And this is what our government has done…”

She said that the government extended the period in which the overdraft must be settled.

“But what is even more egregious is that they went over the limit set by they, themselves, in Parliament — high, high limit of $50 million. That’s an extremely high limit in comparison to what it was in the past….”

Bacchus-Baptiste also said that after exceeding the limit, the government without authority, converted into a loan.

“… we’re the ones going to have to pay it back, paying interest …” Bacchus-Baptiste said and raised questions about why the bank allowed this to happen.

“… it is clear that there is a limit and they’ve been borrowing more than that. And I don’t know why Vincentians are not more appalled by this, you know, because, too, if you can do something like that, so boldface, what else would you do with the people’s money?” she said.

2 replies on “Senator accuses gov’t of misbehaviour”

  1. When the talk is about moral behaviour, Law breaking, unemployment and accountability we must always remember that for the socialist, accountability is often only to themselves while the employment is often for their favoured cronies, friends and family first and foremost.

    That way it is never hard for them to give account to themselves, especially when the nepotism they often engage in, has a way of giving them much tacit approval for all of their actions. That this mob engages itself in Law breaking, should be no surprise to us Vincentians.

    Were we to enact a FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL, Vincentians could hold the Gonsalves to account, and to account with informed knowledge of their presumed actions. Finding out what they are up to in our name, can only be a good thing. The Gonsalves for their part are determined to keep us in the dark and them from giving us any true account of what they are really doing.

    In France, Nicolas Sarkozy will become France’s first former president to stand trial on corruption charges in a case in which he is accused of trying to obtain classified information from a judge. The trial will start on 5 October 2020 and will last until 22 October, a Paris court said.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/08/french-ex-president-nicolas-sarkozy-to-be-tried-on-graft-charges

    Jacques Chirac, who died 26th September, 2019 was the first former president of France to be put on trial. In 2011, he was found guilty of embezzlement and misuse of public funds during his time as mayor of Paris.

    And now the Former French PM Franois Fillon, 65, and his British Welsh wife Penelope, 64, will go on trial accused of ‘paying her a million euros of public cash to do almost no work as his personal assistant’ in fake jobs row that wrecked his bid to become President. Prosecutors say Penelope was paid by the former PM for doing little or no work.

    Fillon denied wrongdoing but the scandal wrecked his 2017 run for presidency. These prosecutions were made possible because of the demand for accountability by the French public. Indeed So much for these so-called socialist much vaunted hollow socialism!
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8036431/Former-French-PM-British-wife-trial-accused-paying-million-euros-public-cash.html

    The renowned Gahanna Economist, George Ayittey calls these type of guys Swiss Bank Socialist. Other examples of such politicians and their relatives in government are José Eduardo dos Santos former President of Angola, in office 10 September 1979 – 26 September 2017 who left office owning $20 Billion in personal wealth and his daughter $2.4 Billion. Under socialist Robert Mugabe $15 Billion of Diamond money disappeared in Zimbabwe. The list of these so-called socialist who it would appear, choose to be unaccountable, is indeed is sure endless.

    We also know of the wealthy lifestyle of Fidel Castro and now his descendants, and of the billions of dollars in Oil and Gold revenues that goes missing yearly in Venezuela. Like the Ortega family in Nicaragua, state rule and family employment, are one and the same thing, just as it is here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRXjD7RXTPk

    Portugal prosecutor orders seizure of Isabel dos Santos accounts as Isabel dos Santos, is now a suspect in a fraud investigation in Angola. There was little accountability during her family rule.
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-angola-dossantos-portugal/portugal-prosecutor-orders-seizure-of-isabel-dos-santos-accounts-idUKKBN2052FD

    Work, Socialism and an examination of the connections between Marxist ideology and the political, economic outcome of countries is noted here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U11G7aqqsmk

    Of Law breaking and unaccountability, Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, ask of the Gonsalves “if you can do something like that, so boldface, what else would you do with the people’s money”? But is it not quite clear from observation what else they could do. Therefore in my opinion it is certainly time for a change of government in SVG!

    May I say, away with the Gonsalves family domination of us, away with their despotic and autocratic control of our institutions, stop it now before it gets too late for us to be able to do anything about it.

  2. Kay Bacchus has spelled it out for us and our Prime Minister and the Boy Wonder constantly comes out and denies what they have been caught RED-HANDED doing. Ralph says it is fine because everyone is doing it and then there is the Boy Wonder who will say the information is inaccurate.
    Kay is right, we should all be outraged! If not for giving us and future generations more unauthorized debt to pay back, so this ULP Government can look like they have made the country rich, but also for trying to constantly fool us into believing thier illegal activity is all fine and legal.
    They cannot even obey the laws that they themselves have crafted!…What a government!
    I am getting sick of the denials and deceptions!!!

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