Now that he has has been elected into government, it appears Premier Andrew Fahie is steering clear of giving any concrete commitment to his pre-election promise to give the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) special powers that would ensure accountability within government.
While on the campaign trail days before the election, Fahie said, if elected, a VIP government would give the PAC more powers to the extent that it (the PAC) could, in a sense, override Cabinet decisions if it determines that those decisions reflect poor or ‘questionable’ governance.
When BVI News contacted the Premier on Monday and asked whether his position remains the same on the subject matter, he responded: “Cabinet decisions were made public as a result of what I was campaigning on even before elections, which is good and makes all decisions public for all to see and deliberate”.
No direct answer
When further asked to expressly state whether he plans to keep his promise to give the PAC greater powers, Premier Fahie still did not give a direct answer.
He said: “As Premier, it is not within my remit to decide how PAC will handle any matter. The transparent action of making Cabinet decisions public was done. Hence the public can decide any course of action now that they are fully informed of Cabinet decisions. At that time of the campaign, this was not the case. I am pleased that it is the case now because it bolsters all the tenants of good governance.”
BVI News sought further clarity by sending the Premier his direct campaign statement on the matter then again asked if plans to keep the promise.
The Premier then replied: “In a meeting. I have answered all that already.”
What Fahie actually said
Below is Fahie’s exact statement made on Thursday, February 21, 2019 — exactly four days before the 2019 General Elections:
“The PAC’s reach should extend into the government’s affairs to the extent that any Cabinet decision made outside of the scope of government policies can be ceased and re-evaluated rather than waiting until when monies would have already been wasted and not properly accounted for,” Fahie said at the time.
“A VIP government will ensure that a PAC has the authority needed to deal with the government of the day in regards to any misappropriation of funds and any fraudulent or questionable acts,” he added.
He made the promise against the backdrop of the challenges he claims to have faced when he served as Chairman of the PAC — a post held by whoever sits as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
The PAC is a body put in place to monitor government and its handling of the public’s purse and accounts.
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