Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Jermaine Figueira of the APNU+AFC complained to the National Assembly that the Government has been stalling the work of the PAC, in an attempt to prevent scrutiny of its management of the country’s resources.
MP Figueira, at the time, was moving a motion for the adoption of the Committee’s Report on the Public Accounts of Guyana for 2016.
In firing back at the allegations, the Government accused the APNU+AFC of trying to shy away from its poor management of the country as reflected in the 2016 Report.
Pointing to the fact that the report is more than five years old, the PAC Chairman told the Assembly that the Government has little interest in good governance, transparency and accountability, and has deliberately set out to slow down the work of the PAC.
“Mr. Speaker, we believe that actions were met out in this House to slow, to stymie, to hinder and unsettle the work of the PAC by the government that is against looking at the Auditor General’s report two years at a time, something that was done as far back as 2010. Mr. speaker this is a strategy to intentionally stall the work of the PAC by not having its members available to get the new quorum – the very quorum that the PPP imposed on the Committee, by the tyranny of their one seat Major,” the PAC Chairman told the House.
He said since the “imposition” of the new quorum requirement for PAC meetings, five meetings have been cancelled because of absent PPP/C Members.
MP Figueira said at the current pace, the 2020 Report may be laid in House until 2030.
“Mr. Speaker in essence the PPP wants the current year’s issues in the Auditor General Report to be interrogated when interest in those issues have waded, in the hope that the population will not take an interest in them anymore. The PPP refuses to meet more than once per week to get through a single even as they are against examining two years together. Hence, we ask what is the PPP’s game plan for the PAC? Sir, how else can one describe the PPP setting the quorum, that two members on each side must be present to start a PAC meeting, but increasingly only one of its five members are available,” he said.
Declaring that the Government was being hypocritical with its approach to public accounts, the PAC Chairman recalled that while in opposition, the PPP/C’s Chief Whip Gail Teixeira had objected to the presence of ministers on the Public Accounts Committee. He said today, the work of the committee is stalled because ministers are absent.
But Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill said instead of addressing the serious issues raised in the 2016 Report, the PAC Chairman found himself addressing what he considers a “non-issue”.
He said the APNU+AFC was attempting to hide from the record, explaining that the report examined key issues raised in the Auditor General Report of 2016 such as the large number of vacancies at the level of the 10 administrative regions, overpayment to contractors by budget agencies, the lack of reimbursements, full payments for incomplete work or work not even started and late delivery – all in breach of the Procurement Act.
“Mr Speaker this report reminds us that we still have scales that were paid that are not yet produced. Scales that were paid for in full, that is why we had this diatribe to attack the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance and to deal with quorum. This report speaks to the performance of the APNU+AFC in 2016,” he said.
He said that while reviewing the period, the Committee had difficulties locating many of the accounting officers, who were appointed by the APNU+AFC Government.
Minister Edghill said though preaching about good governance, transparency and accountability, the Coalition failed to live up to its promise while it was in office.