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Saturday 16 December 2017

More money for better performance

Attorney General (AG) Anand Ramlogan has praised Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix on accounting to the population at a time when there were calls for independent budgets being made by various arms in the Judiciary.

Speaking to reporters after a special sitting for the 2014-15 law term of the Industrial Court, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Ramlogan said it was important for accountability and performance measurement to feature in that discussion.

“I was very heartened to hear that the president specifically targeted the question of delayed judgments. Justice delayed is justice denied and the Industrial Court in the past has been guilty of delaying in delivering judgments in industrial disputes,” he said.

Ramlogan said he was happy the president had given account by statistics to show how they have been tackling that backlog.

He also said on the issue of security of tenure for judges, the matter been bandied about now for over two or three decades, and required a policy decision. “It is a question of reform that must be considered in the context of an act that requires other changes that we can look at,” he said.

On the issue of additional funding for the court, Ramlogan said he has not come across any public official in the Government, or anywhere in the world, who has said they have received enough money or they received more than they wanted.

“The fact of the matter is you have to prioritise expenditure, and no entity that serves the public, whether it is in the judicial arm of the State, the legislative arm of the State or the executive arm of the State, can claim to have received all that they want.

“You have to cut your cloth based on how much cloth you have, and you have to make do with what you have, that is what we are trying to do. In fact, the Judiciary’s annual budget under this Government has consistently gone up since we have gone into office. There has absolutely no decrease, it has increased under this Government,” he said.

The AG said the judicial arm of the State was an important and critical pillar in the functioning of this country’s democracy and Government would continue to give its support to the Judiciary.

Ramlogan said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar intends to write to Chief Justice Ivor Archie to ask for his proposals on his call for an independent budget for the Judiciary, a concern he raised during the opening of the new law term, last week.

“But, bear in mind from the standpoint of the Parliament and the Government, independent budget must also mean full and frank accountability, performance measurement and the strengthening of the integrity of the institution on the bedrock of transparency,” he said.

The AG questioned when the court reach a stage where it received feedback from the end user–the people on the ground.

“In all public service, whether the Government, the Judiciary or the Parliament, the end user must be the ones to give the feedback that we feed into the nodes of the system to tell us how it is performing.

“The litigant, the poor man who seeks justice, is he happy with the service you are providing? Because the call for an independent budget must also be made within the context of performance, accountability and integrity. The industrial Court will be 50 years next year, that is half a century. The Hall of Justice has been with us since Independence and before, so the Government is not afraid at this critical junction and time in the evolution of our nation’s development to confront these questions that have been swept under the carpet for such a long time,” Ramlogan said.


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