PAC to merge 2017, 2018 & 2019 audit reports

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Mere weeks after a disagreement erupted among members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over a push by opposition members to increase the number of weekly sittings, a solution may have been found for addressing the backlog in scrutinising government spending.

The government members of the parliamentary oversight committee on November 1 had successfully passed a motion to maintain the long-running status quo of one meeting per week but at the time promised “flexible” accommodation in working to address the backlog.

On Monday, PAC Chairman Jermaine Figueira told the News Room that there will likely be a merger of outstanding reports which will help with expediting the scrutiny of spending in government agencies.

The announcement came as PAC held what was likely the penultimate meeting for 2021.

According to Figueira, the merger will take place after the Christmas break when PAC reconvenes. The PAC is currently examining the 2016 Auditor-General Report.

According to the Chairman, the intention is to merge 2017, 2018 and 2019 reports “to get them off the records and move unto 2020 and 2021 as soon as possible.”

Precedent has already been set in this regard by two former Chairmen of the PAC. First, it was under former Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge when the 2010 and 2011 reports were merged while he served as an opposition Parliamentarian.

Second, it was now President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who as an opposition MP and PAC Chair; he merged 2012, 2013 and 2014 reports.

Figueira said he intends to follow closely what was done in these two previous instances; he seems to have already gotten the support of the other members of the PAC.

Figueira told the News Room that he will continue to find ways to address the existing backlog.

All members have agreed that there is considerable work to be done at the level of PAC but as the Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira previously argued, there is no need to make it statutory for the PAC to meet twice weekly.

She said the government members are willing to find consensus with the opposition MPs to hold special meetings when necessary to get additional work done.

Teixeira had reasoned that the 2016 to 2020 AG reports, the period of the APNU+AFC rule, are stacked paragraph after paragraph with breaches of the financial and procurement rules.

 

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