At 5:30 this morning, the Government used its parliamentary majority aided by the support of Joinder Parties representative, Lenox Shuman to pass a motion to remove Opposition Member David Patterson as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
The PAC is considered the most important parliamentary committee as it is responsible for the oversight of government spending.
The debate on the motion which was presented by Government Minister Gail Teixeira started just after midnight and continued until after 5:00 am.
In a heated debate, the Opposition accused the government of trying to remove Mr. Patterson and install a Chairman favorable to them. The Opposition is suggesting that the government is eyeing Lenox Shuman for the post. Shuman is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament as well as an Aviation advisor to the government. But the Chairman of the PAC has to come from the main Opposition.
Opposition Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde described the motion as ‘misconceived and downright silly,’ pointing out that the standing orders do not provide for the removal of a Chair of the PAC.
Presenting his arguments to the motion, Mr. Forde said it appears as if the Government is trying to control and or destroy every system in place which provide checks and balances for Government.
“This motion represents Mr. Speaker, another manifestation, of the installed government’s intention to control and bully every institution and I mean every institution and every office in Guyana so as to create an autocratic, ethnocratic, and dictatorial state. Mr. Speaker, this is another manifestation of the installed government’s intention to seek domination over every institution and office which is meant to secure oversight over government actions and to provide transparency,” Forde told the house at 4:29 on Tuesday morning.
In response, Ms. Texeira said it is not the intention for the government to control PAC.
She said the issue of the motion is to deal with the conduct of Mr. Patterson.
Mr. Patterson has been embroiled in controversy over accepting expensive gifts from Departments under his control while he served as a Minister in the APNU+AFC government.
He is also facing charges in Court related to the feasibility study that was conducted for the new Demerara Bridge. That case is ongoing and Patterson has declared his innocence.
“Unless the APNU/AFC is saying to us that the only person that is fit and proper on their side to be chair is Mr. Patterson then obviously you seem to be devoid of fit and proper people. But Mr. speaker, there is no entitlement for the chair, there is no entitlement by any individual for the chair and this is not entitlement of an individual, what has occurred is that the committee is being held to ransom,” Teixeira said.
All Opposition speakers contended that the motion has no basis is law and that the removal of Patterson would set a bad precedent for future Chair of the Committee pointing out that the Government would seek to bring motion once it feels that the Chair of that Committee is sternly interrogating them.
For its part, the Government believes that Patterson has been embroiled in too many controversies to Chair the Public Accounts Committee. The last Chair of the Committee was now President Irfaan Ali.
At the time of his Chairmanship, Mr. Ali was facing 19 fraud charges in the Court. Those charges were withdrawn without reason by the DPP once he became President.
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