Following revelations that as Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson accepted birthday and other gifts from agencies under his purview, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill wants him to step down as Chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly.
Edghill has indicated that based on documents and receipts, during his time as a Government Minister under the previous APNU+AFC government, Mr. Patterson received more than $2 million in pricy gifts from various agencies under his portfolio.
“Mr. Patterson, during his tenure as Minister of Public Infrastructure, received from Agencies under his control, gifts and personal items totaling $2.646M. In May 2020, while the country was experiencing post-elections fiasco and in the middle of Court cases, gifts were purchased for the Minister’s birthday by the Maritime Administration Department to the tune of $704,292”, Edghill said in a statement.
Minister Edghill said he has also seen similar information which points to the junior minister of the same Ministry at the time, receiving gifts too from various departments.
In a statement on the issue, Patterson has admitted to receiving some of the gifts.
He has claimed that government agencies giving gifts to their subject Ministers on special occasions was nothing new and also occurred under the PPP government.
According to the former Minister, “at no time did I ever request, solicit or influence in any way the action of any agency in relation to the presentation of gifts to me or other officials of the government…I believe it is also necessary to state that I had no prior knowledge of any decision or details relating to the purchase or presentation of gifts to anyone, including myself”.
Patterson appears not to be budging from his position as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and he has stated that he never requested or solicited any of the gifts that he received.
The Public Accounts Committee is considered the most important parliamentary committee as it overlooks government spending.