Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie was stopped in his tracks yesterday when he complained that Government’s failure to effectively make certain financial reports public through the House of Assembly has slowed the progress of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Fahie, who recently became chairman of the PAC, said the committee wants to debate documents such as an Accountant General’s report, but that cannot be done until the government tables (makes public) such reports through the House of Assembly.
In fact, Fahie declared that the reports in question are already available to all members of the PAC, which comprises lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.
“Being the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I am surprised to hear that the Premier [Dr D Orlando Smith] has not received the Accountant General’s report from the Treasury… We in the Public Accounts Committee have received them, but can’t debate them because they have not been laid in the House. So they are documents that we (members of the PAC) have,” Fahie said.
He added that the PAC had requested the said doucments before he became chairman.
“We have these information and they were requested long before I became chairman of the PAC – I must admit. But they were given to us – each member in the Public Accounts Committee. But we cannot discuss them until they are made public documents [through the House of Assembly]. I cannot understand how come they are not in the minister of finance’s hand [to be made public today],” Fahie further said in the parliament yesterday, April 18.
Upon hearing those comments, Government member on the PAC Delores Christopher noted that she has not received a copy of any report mentioned by Fahie.
“I beg to state that [comment by Fahie] is not quite the situation, because I don’t have a copy [of the documents] and I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee,” Christopher told the House.
At that juncture, Fahie admitted that he is the only PAC member who actually has the documents he had mentioned. He added that he had just recalled such fact when it was mentioned by Christopher.
Fahie further stated that he was not withholding the documents from the other PAC members.
According to him, other members are not yet in receipt of the documents because his attempts to convene a meeting of the PAC have been futile.
“For the last four weeks I cannot get a quorum (minimum number of PAC members required) to have a Public Accounts Committee meeting. So the only person who would have them (the documents) I guess would be me. Not because I didn’t want to give it to them (other PAC members), but because I couldn’t get a quorum,” Fahie further told the House.
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