by Linda Straker
- PAC oversees government expenditures and examines value for money
- Post-2013 and 2018 General Elections, Upper House members included because no elected opposition
- Leader of Government Business advised current PAC violates rules
Opposition Leader in the Lower House of Parliament, Dr Keith Mitchell, has called on Government to properly constitute the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). This Parliamentary Committee oversees government expenditures and examines the value for money of Government projects, programmes, and service delivery.
“I am appealing to the Government side, at this point, after 10 months of governing, we do not have a properly constituted Public Accounts Committee, and I will call no such meeting until that committee is properly constituted,” he declared in the House on 23 May.
Speaking under the Personal Explanation section of the Order Paper, Dr Mitchell explained that the current construct of Parliament has an elected opposition, and the option adopted when there was no elected opposition in the Lower House cannot apply when it comes to naming the members of the PAC.
“I have pointed out to the clerk and others that there is a fundamental breach of the standing rules and orders as they are over the years…It says the Lower House members who do not have official ministerial responsibilities ought to be members,” he said.
“It should be a maximum of 5 and a minimum of 3. I am surprised that there were senators on the committee,” he said, pointing out that the PAC following the 2013 and 2018 General Elections included members of the Upper House because there was no elected opposition.
Following the 2022 General Election and the ceremonial opening of Parliament in August 2022, members of the PAC were Dr Keith Mitchell as the Chairman, and Peter David, Clarice Modeste as well as Senators Salim Rahaman and Quinc Britton.
After the Leader of Government Business was advised that the current PAC violates the rules, Dr Mitchell told the House he received communications asking that he file a motion in the House requesting Parliament accept the current construct.
“I made it very clear that the Government side needs to correct that fundamental error. Right now, we have a Public Accounts Committee that is not properly constituted, and therefore, we should correct it, but the onus is not on me to do that correction,” said the Opposition Leader.
“I will take no responsibility for any incorrect, improper construct of the Public Accounts Committee. That is the responsibility of the government side, and they must do it.”