Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 28, 2023 News
…12 meetings cancelled so far
Kaieteur News – The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has now suffered at least twelve cancellations due to the absence of government representatives who sit on the panel. And former Auditor General and local transparency advocate, Anand Goolsarran, said this development is not helpful in the promotion of transparency and accountability.
Writing in his column published in the Stabroek News on Monday, Goolsarran stressed on how the amendment of a Parliamentary Standing Order 82 (2) some eleven months ago has led to the change of quorum that is now having an adverse effect on the Parliamentary Committee’s ability to scrutinise the use of public funds documented in the annual Auditor General Reports.
Initially the quorum for a PAC meeting was three members, irrespective of party affiliation. Government recently used his majority in the Parliament to change the quorum to five members which means that there needs to be two Opposition and two Government members before the PAC can proceed with its business. This has proven problematic as on twelve different occasions, yesterday included the absence of government members resulted in the cancellation of the crucial committee meetings.
Goolsarran stressed that, “The accountability for the use of the public resource is substantially incomplete unless a committee of the National Assembly scrutinises the audited accounts in the timeliest manner to ascertain the extent to which the government has utilised the resources made available to it, the way Parliament intended.”
The transparency advocate noted too that because of the cancellations due to the lack of quorum, the committee‘s work is now six years in arrears of reporting to the National Assembly.
While he opined that the change of the quorum should not be viewed as harmful since it allows for both sides of the political divide to be present to properly examine the use of public funds, he noted that it has turned out to stall the work of the PAC due to the absence of the sitting members of government.
In addition to Goolsarran, the cancellations have been bemoaned by A Partnership For National +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Opposition members on the panel including Chairman of the PAC, Jermaine Figueira.
Figueira has accused the government of deliberately stalling the meetings geared towards examining the records of public spending contained in the Auditor General’s reports. When the modification of the quorum was proposed by the government last year, the PAC Chairman had protested against it. He had predicted that the change of quorum for a PAC meeting from three members, irrespective of party affiliation to a quorum to five members would be problematic, if those on the government side failed to turn up for the meeting.
Highlighting his concern in a letter to the editor, Figueira once again alluded to what he calls a blatant disregard by the government for the responsibilities they were elected to uphold on behalf of the people of Guyana. The PAC chairman said that the government’s consistent failure to show up and do the work they were elected to do is a microcosm of the unacceptable reality of many other committees of the National Assembly where committees just don’t meet.
He noted, “The Natural Resources Committee, for example, which should be meeting, given Guyana’s resource-rich status and the possibilities for transformation with our new oil-rich resource, has not met since the inception of this Parliament.”
Figueira added that, “The deliberate derailing and stymieing of the work of the PAC by the government is unacceptable, and it is time for the people of Guyana to demand the accountability they deserve.” In the meantime, due to the numerous cancellations of the PAC meetings for want of a quorum, Figueira is exploring the tabling of a motion in the Assembly to reverse its decision to amend Standing Order 82 (2). As Chair of the PAC, Figueira said the situation can only be seen as untenable and as such, he believes the committee cannot to allow it adversely affect its operations.
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