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Opposition Leader calls for Public Accounts Committee to be properly constituted

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Mitchell - expressed concern over the construct of the Public Accounts Committee

It’s almost one (1) year since the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell took office, and Opposition leader Dr. Keith Mitchell has taken issue that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is mandated to hold the Government accountable for the proper management and administration of public funds, has not been properly constituted.

In the Westminster Parliamentary Democracy, which is the structure Grenada follows, the Committee is chaired by the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House of Parliament and is central to the effective performance of Parliament.

It performs this function by examining the audited accounts of Government Ministries, Departments, and Statutory Bodies and also has the authority to summon senior public servants, and managers of state corporations to appear at Committee meetings.

However, Dr. Mitchell informed Tuesday’s sitting of the Lower House that he will not call a meeting until PAC members are properly appointed.

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, Peter David, Clarice Modeste-Curwen along with Senators Salim Rahaman, and Quinc Britton.

“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 five (5) and a minimum of three (3). I am surprised that there were Senators on the committee,” Dr. Mitchell added, pointing out that the PAC following the 2013, and 2018 General Elections included members of the Upper House because there was no elected opposition.

Dr. Mitchell, who is the longest serving parliamentarian, 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.

He called on the ruling administration to properly appoint the PAC members stating that “this is a serious issue.”

“I am appealing to them at this point after 11 months of the government (and) we do not have a properly constituted Public Accounts Committee…” Dr. Mitchell said, stating that he “will take no responsibility for any incorrect, or improper construct of the Public Accounts Committee.

“It is the responsibility of the government side and they must do it,” the Opposition Leader added.

In presenting the annual report for the 2022 fiscal year during a press conference last month, head of the Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee (FROC) Laurel Bain pointed out that “the audited public sector accounts have not been presented to Parliament since 2016.”

According to Bain, “this is an area in terms of fiscal oversight, and accountability that needs to be closed.”

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