Edghill calls for Patterson’s resignation; says taxpayers’ dollars also purchased king beds, other furnishings
With documents from several agencies under David Patterson’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure further implicating him in a gift-buying scandal, his successor, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, has called for his resignation as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is currently scrutinising government spending for the year 2016.
Edghill urged Patterson to remove himself from the ongoing sessions of the PAC until his alleged involvement in the activities, which breached the country’s procurement laws, are fully investigational and ventilated.
On Monday, when it was revealed that over $500,000 was approved to purchase a tie pin and gold bracelet for the former Minister, Edghill had asked that Patterson discontinue his Chairmanship of the Committee.
But more damning evidence later came to light showing that electronic items and other home furnishings, such as beds and mattresses, were also purchased for Patterson. As such, Edghill again called for his resignation from PAC.
Edghill said when the items are summed up, it accounts for over $2.6 million of taxpayer’s dollars.
“Patterson must do the decent thing and resign as Chairman of the PAC… remove yourself from Chairman of the PAC,” Edghill said at his press conference Wednesday.
In response, Patterson said he will do no such thing; reminding that the previous Chairman was never asked to resign although he was facing several fraud charges in the Magistrate’s Court.
“Listen to me, first and foremost, Edghill must remember that the previous Chair had 19 fraud charges in the Courts. Mr. Edghill is making some unproven allegations,” Patterson told the News Room on Wednesday at Parliament Buildings after a PAC meeting.
But Edghill said his calls were not a campaign to besmirch or sully Patterson’s character even as he rejected the former minister’s claim that he was unaware the procurement laws were breached in the purchasing of the gifts.
“Nobody has a political agenda against Patterson, he is trying to use politics to excuse his abuse of privilege and misuse of public funds,” Edghill contended.
Additionally, Edghill has called for the Integrity Commission to investigate the matter, noting that any gift over US$50 must be declared, and if these gifts were not declared, then Patterson is guilty of an offence.
“If he didn’t and he made a false declaration then it is a criminal act and must be prosecuted in the courts,” the Public Works Minister noted.
Patterson continues to deny that he received the electronic and personal items but earlier admitted in a statement to receiving “gifts” during his tenure as Public Infrastructure Minister.
Also implicated in the gift buying scandal is Annette Ferguson who served as a junior Minister in Patterson’s Ministry. Edghill said gifts to Ferguson totals some $1.4 million.