‘Patterson too reckless to be PAC chairman’ – Edghill

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See full statement issued on Tuesday by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill:

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is in no way seeking to obstruct the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) or to prevent scrutiny of Government’s spending.

The PAC is currently examining the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. A period during which Mr. Patterson, a Minister in the then APNU/AFC Government, was part of the Cabinet that authorized spending. The machinations, maneuvers, spin-doctoring and deflecting will not change the reality and recorded fact of the APNU/AFC squandermania.

Mismanagement and the lack of accountability are what is being exposed and will continue to be exposed as we examine the era of the APNU/AFC May 2015 to July 2020 at the PAC.

Why would the PPP/C want to obstruct such exposure?  Arguments to suggest otherwise are hilarious.

Secondly, the PPP/C Members of the PAC are not seeking to remove Mr. David Patterson as a member of the PAC. We have fully accepted that through the process of the ‘committee of selection’, the Opposition is entitled, just like the Government, to name its members to any committee. Mr. Patterson has been so named a member of the PAC.

However, our contention is that he cannot and should not preside over meetings of the PAC that is examining spending by APNU/AFC government of which he was a part of, and which based upon evidence, he himself is currently embroiled in acts of questionable spending, including the acceptance of expensive gifts from agencies under his Ministry’s control as was gazetted. This issue was compounded that when the matter was first exposed, he lied, denied, and tried to cover his tracks and only accepted when inconvertible evidence was presented in the media, at which time he attempted to trivialize such an egregious violation.

The refusal by any other member of the opposition to serve as presiding officers must be seen for what it is, dubious, deceptive, and set in a mode of trickery. All should be aware that Mr. Patterson presided over the debate, a clear conflict of interest since he was the subject and the party that would have been affected by the successful passage of the motion. He used his office as Chairman to attempt to block the debate a clear abuse of privilege. He presided over a debate where he allowed opposition members to hurl personal insults at Government Members of the PAC. He allowed it because it served his own personal interest.

Once clarification was sought and subsequently given by the Clerk of the National Assembly that the Motion was properly put and should be proceeded with, the next logical step was a vote.

At that stage, Mr. Patterson vacated the chair, knowing fully well, that the game plan was to leave the PAC without a Presiding Officer. A clear diabolical plot.

The actions of the APNU/AFC and Mr. Patterson and his colleague members of the PAC has placed scrutinizing of public expenditure and accountability in jeopardy. The Public Accounts Committee has the task of approving the Auditor General’s Budget for 2021, which must be presented to the Parliament by the Chairman of the PAC. Another important agenda item is the reconstituting the Public Procurement Commission (PPC).  The above-mentioned items are of great national importance and should they not be done will seriously affect transparency, accountability, and good governance.

The PPP/C’s motion was to have Mr. Patterson remove himself from being the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (explicitly stating that he can remain a member) and if he does not remove himself, the Committee should determine and take necessary action for his removal.

The overdrive of the Opposition spurting spurious, infantile, and totally extraneous arguments will not “make the cut”. The fact remains Mr. David Patterson while functioning as Minister of Public Infrastructure during the Period May 2015 to July 2020   received expensive gifts totalling millions of dollars. He is yet to give a credible account for his actions. Guyanese do not need fairytale stories, they need the truth.

Can the people of Guyana have confidence in such a person chairing such an important committee that has such an important role?

Can a person who practised such recklessness head a committee which will examine Government spending while he was a part of the Government and responsible for the Ministry which has been cited for multiple breaches under his tenure? The case is clear.

We act on behalf of the people.

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