Gov’t MPs say no agreement to merge 2017, 2018 & 2019 audit reports at PAC

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One day after Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Jermaine Figueira announced plans to merge the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Auditor General Reports as the scrutiny of government spending continues, government Parliamentarians on the Committee has said that no agreement has been reached.

In a joint statement late Tuesday night, the five government members on the PAC said Figueira’s suggestion that the PAC has agreed to merge the Auditor General’s reports for several years is false.

“We wish to categorically state that no decision has been taken to merge any audit reports as is being suggested by Mr Figueira,” the statement said.

It was noted that while the matter was raised at the last meeting of the PAC where Figueira attempted to rule unilaterally, he was rebuffed by the government members of the Committee.

“The matter was placed on the agenda by the Chairman and is expected to be fiercely debated at the next meeting of the PAC on Monday, December 6, 2021,” the joint statement added.

Figueira had told the News Room on Monday that there will likely be a merger of the reports which will help with expediting the scrutiny of spending in government agencies.

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.

His announcement came mere weeks after a disagreement erupted among members of the Committee over a push by opposition members to increase the number of weekly sittings.

In relation to merging reports, a 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 and 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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