Gov’t, Opposition in stalemate to merge 2019, 2020 AG reports

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For a second consecutive week, there has been no meeting of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as government MPs continue to reject a suggestion by Opposition Parliamentarian and PAC Chairman Jermaine Figueira to merge the Auditor General’s 2019 and 2020 reports for review.

Figueira argues that the merging of reports was done several times in the past even when President Irfaan Ali Chaired the Committee and said it is important now to address the backlog.

But PAC member and Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira believes that since the period covers two years after the David Granger-led government fell on the passage of the No-Confidence motion and the protracted electoral process, the review should be done independently.

“The absence of a quorum is not the reason why the meeting was not held, it may have been a consequence,” the Minister told the News Room via telephone.

But from the halls of Parliament Buildings where opposition members had gathered for the statutory PAC meeting, Figueira maintained that the government members had intentionally absented themselves.

“The PAC is not concerned about no-confidence motion and GECOM not holding of elections.

“We deal primarily with findings in the Auditor General report… the fact of the matter is we are way behind and that is why the decision was made,” Figuera said.

Asked whether the matter can be voted on in the Committee where the government holds the majority, Minister Teixeira said Figueira has reserved his right not to heed counsel from the government members.

She said attempts were made to put it to a vote and the Chairman refused.

“…so, the result of that was no quorum and not that the quorum was the problem… the problem is much bigger than that.

“We have not been happy about combining these reports, they did it by a majority for 2017 and 2018 and now we are saying that we don’t support it,” she added.

The Minister has written Figueira explaining the government’s reasons for not supporting the merger.

The latest letter was sent on Monday. But in a previous letter, the government members explained that the 2019 and 2020 Auditor General Reports were “aberrations because it was after the no-confidence motion and monies were spent for 14 months without supervision and then for another five months after the 2020 elections.”

This Teixeira says it amounts to a serious issue.

Neither of the two sides can say how the matter will be resolved but Texiera now awaits a response to her letter sent on Monday.

She said the response she received from Figueira on Sunday was “abusive and shows clearly he is not interested in listening to the democratic will of anyone else.”

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