Oct 20, 2021 News
– says efforts must be geared towards clearing backlog
Kaieteur News – Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Jermaine Figueira, on Monday shut down a motion by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, to reduce the PAC meetings from twice weekly to just once per week.
Teixeira’s attempt to move the motion was shut down by Figueira, who believes that the meetings are necessary, taking into consideration the five-year backlog at the PAC that needs to be cleared. The PAC is still reviewing financial accounts and records of the Auditor General reports dating back to 2016.
However, Teixeira noted that, while meetings with the PAC are important, the twice weekly discussions of the PAC only places undue pressure on the members of the Government, the audit team, and other constitutional agencies, which have other responsibilities to carry out.
She noted that it was difficult for representatives from these agencies, who are required to be at PAC meetings twice per week.
Teixeira opined that “the opposition MPs are not working, so they can meet five days a week, but not the rest of us; we don’t have a lot of free time on our hands”
Minister Teixeira’s motion would reverse a previous one that was moved by APNU+AFC’s Member of Parliament, Ganesh Mahipaul, who argued that the PAC should be meeting twice weekly in order to clear the backlog of financial irregularities that have to be scrutinised.
Teixeira noted that the decision was taken without adequate discussion or input of the parties involved and as a result, Figueira had promised to have the motion discussed at a subsequent meeting.
However, she said that the Chairman reneged on his promise, when he refused to have the motion entertained during the committee meeting, last Monday.
“I had asked him when and he said Monday, the minister explained, adding that Figueira “proceeded to adjourn the meeting, until this Friday, October 22, despite being reminded of his commitment.”
The Minister noted that Figueira’s actions serve as yet another example of the “untrustworthiness” of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) “and their Members of Parliament.”
She asserted, too, that the PAC Chairman’s response to the motion closely resembled that of his predecessor David Patterson, who was voted out of the position, earlier this year.
Last July, following his selection as Chair of the PAC, Figueira announced that the committee will meet twice weekly in an attempt to clear its five-year backlog of financial audits.
The decision was made at the first meeting of the PAC under his stewardship when the committee set all agenda items, including the establishment of a special select committee to shortlist potential members of the Public Procurement Commission, were addressed.
The PAC Chair had explained that the work of the PAC will extend from the Guyana Defence Force to other agencies.
“There are about six paragraphs remaining under that agency. We [also] have several reports from the AG’s office and that too will be on the agenda. Additionally, I’m prepared to address the issue of the request made by the President for the AG to conduct an audit of the allocation for the COVID-19 relief grant. We will ask the AG after he has answered questions on the various reports his office would’ve prepared to give us an update on the progress of the President’s request for that audit to be done,” Figueira had explained about the decision for the PAC to meet twice weekly.
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