Edghill hints at motion to stop PAC examination of combined 2019, 2020 reports

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The examination of 2019 and 2020 Auditor General’s reports by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been delayed over differences in how those reports should be reviewed.

Public Works Minister and PAC member Juan Edghill has hinted at the government members of the PAC potentially bringing a motion to the committee that could see members voting to examine those reports separately.

“If in any committee, a matter that is being discussed there is no consensus, then there are rules of engagement.

“If it cannot be involved by consensus, it will be resolved by way of a vote,” Edghill told reporters at the sidelines of an event on Monday.

This motion, he explained, is how the ongoing impasse can be resolved.

Though the last three meetings of the PAC have been postponed, government and opposition have been tussling over how the reports should be examined.

This matter has been widely-ventilated ahead of the ongoing Parliamentary recess.

The government members believe that 2019 and 2020 require individual scrutiny given Guyana’s political climate at the time. That is, the APNU+AFC government has fallen after a No-Confidence motion, and then there were the protracted elections.

“We cannot gloss over that period as though everything is well.”

“While it is true that you’ve had examinations of years combined before, that was when everything was normal and everything was equal,” Edghill said on Monday.

Opposition members, however, prefer the reports be combined so that the backlog of the PAC’s work can be addressed.

Though the PAC is yet to examine these two reports,  Auditor General Deodat Sharma handed over the 2021 Audit Report to the Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir.

Opposition Parliamentarian and member of the PAC Juretha Fernandes posited that the functions of the PAC do not change whether reports are combined or not.

According to her, combining the reports may actually prove more beneficial since it allows staffers from the various regions to travel to the PAC meetings on one occasion, instead of on two separate occasions.

And if that is done, she said there is no limit on how many questions they can be asked or how long they can be questioned. As such, Fernandes contended that proper scrutiny of both reports can be done.

She was also asked by reporters on Monday to comment on Edghill’s assertions that these two reports cover unique years in Guyana’s history and must be scrutinised diligently.

She responded: “All the Auditor General reports come with the same level of importance, it is the examination of the public purse and the way the money is spent.”

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