Two new members have been added to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was reconstituted in the House of Assembly on 4 February.
The change of formation was prompted because two members of the previous Public Accounts Committee, which was constituted in July of last year were given junior ministries and could no longer function as members of the Committee.
The members of the new Public Accounts Committee are: Leader of the Opposition and Third District Representative, Hon Julian Fraser who is also the Chairman, First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie, Fifth District Representative, Hon. Delores Christopher, and Second District Representative Hon. Melvin Turnbull.
In presenting the motion Premier Smith stated “Madam Speaker it is important to have the Committee active and the members show up and do what they have to do.”
He also pointed out that the function of the Public Accounts Committee is to consider the accounts of the government in conjunction with the Auditor General’s report, as well as considering any special report submitted by the Auditor; and to report to the House of Assembly in the case of any excess or unauthorized expenditure of funds and reason for such expenditure.
Premier Smith also mentioned that the PAC is tasked to report to the House of Assembly in the case of any shortfall of revenue and the reason for such shortfall.
In explaining why the Committee had to be reconstituted Hon. Smith explained that one of the features of the PAC is that no person shall be qualified to be nominated who was acting as a Minister.
“Madam Speaker not long ago the Hon. Marlon Penn and the Hon. Archibald Christian were appointed Junior Ministers in the Government. Well one may argue that they are not full Ministers, but Madame Speaker as Junior Ministers they do still have executive responsibilities.”
The Premier explained that he checked in other countries and the UK and noted that Junior Ministers do not sit on Public Accounts Committees.
During the debate of the Motion, Leader of the Opposition, and PAC Chair, Hon. Julian Fraser thanked the Premier for acting quickly in reconstituting the PAC. He told the House: “Madame Speaker I discussed this matter with the Premier and wrote to the Governor requesting that new appointments be made, given the nature of the appointments that were made and the members who were sitting on the Committee.”
“I did urge them to do it at the earliest possible time which is today and I want to thank him (Premier) for it gives the Public Accounts Committee an opportunity to continue with its work.”
Hon. Fraser also asked the Premier to use as much influence as he can to fill the Auditor General position, because the office of the Auditor General is a key component of the PAC.
While the Opposition Leader did not debate the reconstitution of the Committee, he did express some concern that the Deputy Speaker of the House was appointed.
“The appointment of the Deputy Speaker to the Public Accounts Committee, I do have concerns about. The reason for that Madam Speaker can be had by looking at the last House of Assembly when the report by the Public Accounts Committee was being debated and the Deputy Speaker was presiding. While it might not happen again the possibility does exist, and it can happen,” Hon. Fraser explained.
Hon. Fraser asked the Premier to consider how Hon. Christopher would be able to carry out her functions as a member of the PAC and the Deputy Speaker which may require her at times to sit in the seat of Speaker.