Edghill, Figueira clash over seeming attempts to rewrite, discredit AG report
The 2021 parliamentary recess ended on Sunday, October 10, with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Monday for the first time in several weeks.
The meeting, however, did not end on a good note with Public Works Minister Juan Edghill taking a premature departure.
Among the contentious issues at Monday’s meeting was what Edghill described as attempts by PAC Chairman Jermaine Figueira and his colleague Parliamentarians from the APNU+AFC Coalition to rewrite and discredit the Auditor General (AG) Reports, particularly for the period when the Coalition was in government.
But Edghill’s comments were rejected by Figueira, who also noted that it will not be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Edghill said he had taken note of the subliminal message and diabolical attempt to discredit the AG and his report.
He made the assertion after the PAC Chairman had to instruct the AG to correct his report several times during Monday’s meeting when discrepancies were encountered.
Edghill said such instructing is beyond the remit of PAC and its Chairman.
“If the Chairman ask the Auditor General to correct his report it is a finding that it is saying the report is flawed and it can be used to say what was written is untrue,” the Minister added while observing that many of the mistakes are typographical or occurred during printing.
“I am intelligent enough to know that when – ‘correct your report’ – is repeated several times, sooner or later you’ll hear the Auditor General wrote things that were not factual,” he added.
Edghill reminded that the AG is guided by an Act in the execution of his duties and the report is compiled by adhering to certain principles.
“You cannot rewrite the Auditor General’s report,” he said while cautioning that noting should be done at the level of the PAC that can interfere with the independence of the Audit Office.
“We need to be very careful about how we cast aspersions or bash that report,” he said
But Edghill’s comments did not find favour with Figueira and he was stopped from completing his statement. He insisted that mistakes were made in the report and those mistakes must be corrected.
“What we have said is that the AG report has some mistakes and we are of the view that the report should reflect what the exact evidence is and we have asked him to make his corrections as he would have done in previous meetings,” the PAC Chairman clarified.
Figueira said Edghill was misrepresenting what happened and asked the AG, Deodat Sharma, who was present, if he agreed with the Minister.
He promised to further investigate the observations before commenting.