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On Wednesday, April 13, 2022, a motion was passed in the National Assembly of Guyana changing the quorum of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Before the passage of this motion, a quorum was any three members of the committee and this existed since 1963. A quorum now requires five members, two representing the Government, two representing the Opposition and the Chairperson.
During the debates the Opposition argued against the motion pointing out that the motion is an attempt by Government to dismantle the guardrails of our democracy, decide when Public Accounts Committe should meet and at what pace the PAC should be working. The Government vehemently disagreed with the Opposition’s position and in a nutshell indicated that they will never seek to stymie the work of the Public Accounts Committee.
The statutory day for PAC is every Monday at 10am and on Monday, May 23, 2022, the Government side was a no-show at PAC. The Clerk of PAC informed the Opposition Members who were all present (Hon. Jermaine Figueira and Hon. David Patterson virtual and Hon. Ganesh Mahipaul and Hon. Juretha Fernandes physical) that the Government side has asked to be excused due to the flood situation in Region Nine. Noticably present for the meeting were the Finance Secretary, Accountant General and the Auditor General representative. Also present were the agencies to be examined (Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and Region Nine).
Editor, this action of the Government side to not attend PAC confirms and authenticate the Opposition’s position as articulated in the debates on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 and that is the Government’s attempt to dismantle the guardrails of our democracy, decide when PAC should meet and at what pace the PAC should be working. Government members, Hon. Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, Hon. Dharamkumar Seeraj and Hon. Sanjeev Datadin, are not staff members of the Civil Defence Commission nor are they Ministers of Government. The Civil Defence Commission is responsible for the assessment of the flood situation in Region Nine and it is the CDC that recommends to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for Government’s intervention. So the attempt by the Government PAC members to hoodwink us did not work.
We must see this act by the Government for what it is and that is the Government wants to slow down the work of the PAC so that the PAC will not be able to examine the accounts of 2020 and 2021. The public perception about the Government’s spending of taxpayers’ dollars in 2020 after the passage of the budget in September 2020 and 2021 is shocking, marred with corruption and flies in the face of transparency and accountability. Only the Public Accounts Committee can dispel that perception and one would have thought that this Government which sings about transparency and accountability would have wanted to clear the air, but clearly they don’t.
My next missive will focus on some of the findings of the Auditor General for 2020 and prove my point that the PPP Government is a corrupt regime.
Hon. Ganesh Mahipaul, M.P.
Opposition PAC Member.