Physical Planning Act in limbo; President Faure returns approved Bill to National Assembly | 11 March 2020
The National Assembly yesterday commenced its official business by addressing a first-time occurrence before the assembly whereby an Act has been approved by the assembly but the Act has not been assented to by the President, for reasons he stated in writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly Nicholas Prea.
Speaker Prea started off by explaining that the Physical Planning Act was approved by the National Assembly last year, but was not signed by President Faure. As per Article 88 of the Constitution, when such a situation arises, the President returns this Act to the Speaker’s office and he also provides a reason as to why it was not signed. This starts the constitutional process and after a three-month timeframe, from when the president should have signed, the assembly through a notice approves through a vote of no less than two thirds to pass a resolution for the law to be presented to the President once again for it to be assented but if the assembly does not reach the two thirds vote, the law is not-given effect. In both instances, the Office of the Speaker needs to report the decision of the National Assembly to the President.
Speaker Prea moved for the notice to resolve that the Bill should again be presented for President Faure to assent. The notice was seconded by Jean-François Ferrari, the member for Mont Fleuri.
As per a letter addressed to the speaker and which was cited by Bernard Georges, President Faure is said to have provided the following reasons for not assenting to the Physical Planning Act;
“S91 (1) a. of the bill requires that the Chairperson and seven members of the board of the planning authority be appointed on the recommendation of the Constitutional Appointment Authority (CAA). The members of the board of the planning authority are not constitutional appointees, the appointments are made by the executive. The functioning of the planning authority is subject to auditing and to such oversight as is exercised by the legislature in accordance with the constitution”.
“In other words, he does not agree with the way the members will be selected and feels that appointments should be made by the executive with the oversight of the National Assembly,” Hon. Georges elaborated.
Leader of the opposition, Wavel Ramkalawam, Waven William and numerous others intervened with Sebastien Pillay supporting the President’s reasoning as valid while Hon. Georges in his short intervention weighed up the possibilities of options before the assembly as per the Constitution while also questioning the role and function of the CAA.
Leader of government business, Charles de Comarmond, also pronounced himself on the motion denouncing Mr Georges’ questioning of the CAA’s functions and expressing support for President Faure’s decision as the executive arm of government.
Speaker Prea concluded the deliberations noting that 22 of 33 votes were required for the motion to be approved. The Bill was defeated by 15 votes in favour and 10 against.