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Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill said the attempt by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to remove A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, David Patterson as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is in no way seeking to obstruct the work of the Committee or to prevent scrutiny of Government’s spending.
“The PAC is currently examining the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. A period during which Mr. Patterson, a minister of the then APNU+AFC Government, was part of the Cabinet that authorized spending. The machinations, maneuvers, spin doctoring and deflecting will not change the reality and recording fact of the APNU+AFC are spinning and deflecting the reality of the squandermania,” Minister Edghill said.
The Public Infrastructure Minister, who forms part of the PAC, said there is no reason for the PPP/C to obstruct the work of the PAC.
Further, he clarified that it is not the intention of PPP/C to remove Patterson as a member but rather as the Chairman.
“We have fully accepted that through the process of the committee of selection, the Opposition is entitled, just like the Government, to name its members to any committee. Mr. Patterson has been so named a member of the PAC.
However, our contention is that he cannot and should not preside over meetings of the PAC that is examining spending by APNU+AFC of which he was a part of, and which based upon evidence, he himself is embroiled in acts of questionable spending, including the acceptance of expensive gifts,” Minister Edghill said.
He contended that the refusal by the other Opposition Parliaments to take up the chairmanship must be seen for what it is, dubious, deceptive, and set in a mode of trickery.
“All should be aware that Mr. Patterson presided over the debate, a clear conflict of interest since he was the subject and the party that would have been affected by the successful passage of the motion. He used his office as Chairman to attempt to block the debate a clear abuse of privilege. He presided over a debate where he allowed opposition members to haul personal insults at Government Members of the PAC. He allowed it because it served his own personal interest,” Minister Edghill further complained.
He noted that once clarification was given by the Clerk of the National Assembly that the Motion was properly put and should be proceeded with, the next logical step was a vote, however, Patterson, opted to vacate the chair.
“The actions of the APNU+AFC and Mr. Patterson and his colleague members of the PAC public scrutiny and accountability in jeopardy since apart from the task of scrutinizing the Public Accounts, for the year 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, that is currently before the Public Accounts Committee we have the task of the approval of the Auditor General’s Budget for 2021, which must be presented to the Parliament by the Chairman of the PAC and adding to that that so important task of the reconstituting the Public Procurement Commission (PPC). The above-mentioned agenda items are of great national importance and should they not be done will seriously affect transparency, accountability, and good governance,” he said.
However, the APNU+AFC Members of Parliament sitting on the PAC, on Monday, had said that it is the PPP/C, who is running scared that soon the 2020 accounts will be scrutinized.