By DALE LUMA
OPPOSITION Leader Belden Namah yesterday filed a Supreme Court application challenging the constitutionality of the National Pandemic Act (2020).
Namah, through lawyers Young and Williams, is asking the courts to strike out the law under section 41 of the Constitution and declare it unconstitutional.
According to the Opposition leader in a press conference yesterday, the law goes against principles of good governance, accountability and violates the rights of citizens guaranteed under the Constitution.
Namah highlighted sections 7 and 51 of the National Pandemic Act to have constitutional implications that remove parliamentary control of public expenditure and bypassing established acts of parliament.
“The pandemic law part seven removes the parliamentary control over the ration and expenditure of public monies,” Namah said.
“It places all these controls under the executive government and the National Pandemic Controller.
“Section 5 excludes operation of the National Procurement Act (2018) and the Public Finance Management Act (1995).
“Section 51 states that the National Procurement Act and the Public Finance Management Act do not apply to all procurement undertaken for a national response during a declared period.
“This is basically saying that the national executive government, the prime minister and the Covid-19 controller can do anything they want. They can go outside the procurement process and the public finance management act and raise funds and expand it as and how they see fit.”
Namah said this invited corruption at a high level and was intended as a scheme for a few in government.
This, he said, abrogated the powers and functions of the auditor-general and public accounts committee and vested its control on the executive government.
“The whole law alters the constitutional system of government by removing powers of parliament and vesting it in the control of the executive government and the National Pandemic Controller,” Namah said.
“It being a constitutional law, a state of emergency is harder to declare and for a limited time. That means you can now longer declare a state of emergency because this law now supersedes the state of emergency and places the control of the entire country in the hands of a few without them being subject to the law. Subject to the law meaning without them being held accountable to the people of this country.
“That means that the prime minister can give big amounts of contracts to his relatives and friends and he is not subject to prosecution.
“That means the health minister, the police minister and police commissioner, who is the National Pandemic Controller, can do the same.”
Namah said anyone who the executive government gave powers to, could do almost anything and not held subject to prosecution under the laws of the country.
By DALE LUMA