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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the 12th Parliament is currently faced with a backlog of Auditor General (AG) reports to be examined. This week, the PAC finally completed the examination of the AG report for 2016, which indicates that the PAC is clearly behind on its mandate.
Backlogs on its workload, while undesirable, is not uncommon to the PAC, and historically the PAC has always sought to resolve this challenge by combining several outstanding years into a single report. This method, as evidenced by previous PACs actions, in no way reduces the Committee’s scrutiny of our public accounts.
The following AGs reports would have been consolidated, examined, and presented to parliament: –
CONSOLIDATED PERIOD (Yrs.) REPORT SUBMITTED
1995, 1996, 1997 & 1998 October 2000
2000 & 2001 February, 2006
2002 & 2003 January, 2008
2004 & 2005 January, 2010
2007 & 2008 June, 2011
2010 & 2011 November, 2016
2012, 2013 & 2014 July, 2017
A proposal was made for the current PAC to consolidate the 2017, 2018 & 2019 AGs reports, in an attempt to reduce the backlog and bring the PAC to a current position. However, in similar fashion to the opposition’s proposal for PAC to meet twice weekly to reduce existing backlogs, the government has rejected this proposal on the pretext that PAC cannot be guided by precedence.
Lord Mansfield said, “What is determined by solemn argument establishes the law, and makes a precedent for future cases…”. There was solemn and determined argument and agreement for the consolidation of reports which were successfully analyzed. Without any case or reason presented to show why this successful method should not be adopted we are left to conclude that the actions and arguments of this Government are extremely reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm where what is acceptable changes depending on who it is being applied to.
OR, is there a reason why the PAC should continue in a state of backlog to ensure that the current Public Accounts are not reviewed until another five years????