The Public Accounts Committee

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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) resumed working yesterday. The resumption came after months of inaction given the Government’s side refusal to have David Patterson, Alliance For Change, as Chairman. No. 82 of National Assembly the Standing Orders expressly states the Chairman of the PAC will be from the “Main Opposition”. It follows that the main opposition, which is the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) should have insisted on the compliance of Standing Order No. 82 in its present form because it is an existing Rule of the National Assembly.

That the coalition members allowed themselves to be dictated to by the Government in removing Patterson is not only unfortunate but sets a dangerous precedent for respecting the very rules both Opposition and Government must be held accountable to in the National Assembly. It also makes it problematic for the public to likewise hold them accountable to.  The aforementioned being said, it is good that this important Committee, which oversees government’s spending, is now functioning.

There is a lot to know and many questions to be answered. Presently the Committee is scrutinizing the 2015 Auditor General’s Report. Of attention was the 2015 spending in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). This was a period when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic and APNU+AFC were in government, the latter entering government in May 2015. It is also a period when the current Prime Minister, retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, was the Chief of Staff.

The Guyanese society will look forward to rigorous oversight of the spending regardless of who was in office. The news that the GDF has not properly dispensed with the spending of taxpayers’ money should attract the necessary scrutiny and accountability. Transparency and good governance are hinged to this.

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Wastage of taxpayers’ money through corrupt practices constitutes human rights violations. Waste prevents scarce money being spent on important social services such as quality public education, water and healthcare necessary for human development. The development of physical infrastructures such as proper roads, traffic lights, and bridges is also hindered from wasteful spending and corrupt practices.

The work of the Public Accounts Committee will be much looked forward to. Transparency International advises that “good governance is characterised as being participatory, accountable, transparent, efficient, responsive and inclusive, respecting the rule of law and minimising opportunities for corruption.”  Guyanese yearn for good governance. The Public Accounts Committee offers the opportunity to make it happen.



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