For someone who takes obvious pleasure in being referred to as a constitutional lawyer, a bright boy, an intellectual—the only person in the world for whom his country’s Constitution and the constitution of a political organization were amended for his benefit—Kenny Anthony sure does a poor job of demonstrating an appreciable understanding of the rules, traditions and conventions that underscore parliamentary procedure.
What is especially disturbing is his stubborn insistence on employing a number of irregular practices to achieve outcomes within and without the hallowed walls of parliament, not to say at the various ministries he heads.
Indeed it would appear that of late, parliament has become Kenny Anthony’s playground. Certainly he seems to relish turning the island’s highest court into a fool’s paradise, purposefully befuddling the unsuspecting, largely unprepared House opposition. Take this year’s Budget presentation which went through parliament a few months ago.
You may recall, dear reader, that the prime minister had assumed a rather arrogant posture at the start of the debate on the Budget motion when he dictated to the House that he would allow every MP to speak for one hour, except in the case of the Leader of the Opposition whom he would allow all the time she needed to make her contribution.
What was shocking at that time was not only the PM’s out-of-place attempt to control the timing of the MPs’ contributions, but also the opposition’s total silence on the matter.The fact is that KennyAnthony does not have the authority to which MP should or should not speak, or their allotted time.
The time and manner of speaking is provided for in Standing Order 32 of the House of Assembly, and no prime minister can give or take that time. So, at the very least, one would have expected the opposition to call Kenny’s bluff. They did not. That was hardly the end of it.
The country has seen several Budgets since independence, and a pattern has been established within the rules for the passage of the annual Estimates of Expenditure in the House of Assembly.
These rules call for the Estimates of Expenditure to be passed as a first order of business and for this to be followed by the introduction of an Appropriation Bill which, if passed, will authorize the Minister for Finance to draw down sums contained within the approved Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated Fund.
These two events—the initial passage of the Budget through a motion, and the subsequent enactment of appropriation law through the Appropriation Bill—normally take place in a single block of time, within the same session of parliament.
But our wise Prime Minister and Minister for Finance had other plans. He piloted the Budget motion through the House, received parliamentary approval on the evening of the opening of the year’s Jazz Festival, and then he closed parliament.
It did not bother Kenny Anthony that he had a Budget which required legal sanction before he could begin to spend it. What concerned him more was the people’s participation in the Jazz Festival. So he prorogued parliament, and on-camera urged a group of journalists outside the parliament chamber to go and enjoy themselves.
Once the Jazz Festival was over, the king-like Kenny opened a new session of parliament, with the usual Throne Speech from the Lady on the Hill, and pursued the first order of business: the introduction of the Appropriation Bill, designed to bring the Budget cycle to a close.
So there you had it, dear reader: the first part of the Budget cycle taking place in an “old” session of parliament, and the second part of the cycle taking place in a “new” session. Clearly,a trans-sessional approach to the 2014-2015 Budget presentation.
Once again the maverick had struck; once again the no-balls opposition had remained voiceless!
Those who may be referring to Kenny’s haphazard, unprincipled, and irregular actions as strokes of brilliance should stop a while and think of the consequences to the Saint Lucian psyche, and on the orderly development of our nation.
Who among Kenny Anthony’s supporters are ready to start mending our broken country?