2019 finance breaches: Former Region Five REO again fails to account
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutinised the 2019 Auditor General’s on Monday, looking into the administration of Region Five.
Before the scrutiny got underway on Monday morning, however, the PAC members were united in their outrage against the region’s former Regional Executive Officer (REO) Ovid Morrison, because he did not initially appear before the committee to answer for the breaches unearthed.
His successor Genevieve Blackman attended the session with her staff but members of the PAC thought it prudent for Morrison to be there since the period under review was during his tenure.
Ms. Blackman told the PAC that she tried to contact Morrison to appear before the Committee but she was informed that he has been out of the country for a while.
This incensed members of the committee, particularly government Parliamentarian Juan Edghill. According to him, accounting officers like Mr. Morrison are required by law to appear before the Committee and answer for the financial breaches flagged by the Auditor General.
“Everyone who is appointed as an accounting officer is appointed under the hands of the Finance Secretary with powers given to him that are derived from the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act.
“That accounting officer, at the time of his appointment, is aware that he would have to account for his accounting whether or not he is still on the job,” Edghill said.
He added: “You don’t be an accounting officer, spend government’s money and disappear… and you just can’t be unavailable because you are out of the country or you have another job.”
This isn’t the first time the absence of Mr. Morrison has incensed the PAC. Last year as the PAC examined the findings of the Auditor General in his 2017 and 2018 reports, Mr. Morrison was again needed to explain breaches identified.
He was unavailable for quite some time until he showed up in April.
Opposition Parliamentarian Juretha Fernandes also expressed her dissatisfaction with the absence of Mr. Morrison and said such instances is evidence why the PAC should have powers to summon people.
When Monday’s PAC session resumed later in the day, Mr. Morrison showed up and answered questions posed about financial breaches in 2019.