During the continuation of the House of Assembly sitting on 14 July, Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith disagreed with Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser’s opinion that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should not comprise of two members of the Government.
The subject of the composition of the PAC arose during the Motion which announced that the new PAC would consist of Third District Representative, Hon. Fraser, First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie, Eight District Representative, Hon. Marlon A. Penn; and Territorial At Large Representative, Hon. Archibald Christian.
In response to Hon. Fraser’s concern Premier Smith explained: “The function of the Public Accounts Committee is to consider all accounts of Government in conjunction with the Auditor’s report. Madame Speaker the backbench on the Government’s side has an important role to play in this act, because they are as much concerned as Members of the Opposition about how the money of the Government is spent.”
The BVI Leader stated that if the members representing Government on the PAC were to be reduced leaving only one member there will be difficulties. He explained that the difficulty would come because there will be times when one of the members would be unable to attend the meetings of the PAC.
Dr. Smith pointed out: “If we were to reduce the number of members of the government side on the Board, there would only be one member from the government side and two members from the opposition. In that case, the quorum would be two which means there would be the possibility of having meetings of the Public Accounts Committee without a member of the government side at all attending, and that is not acceptable.”
Premier Smith also noted that the Standing Orders stated that the Chairman of the Committee would be the Leader of the Opposition. However, an Opposition Leader has not been selected; and opined that the appointment of the Chairman of the PAC would be done in due course after the determination of the Leader of the Opposition.
Additionally, Hon. Smith stated that there should be no worry about there being a deadlock during PAC meetings because of the equal number of members representing both sides: “First of all, the Chairman has a deciding vote if there is a tie. So, the chairman always has a vote to determine what direction any resolution should go in,” the Premier noted.
An impasse between the two members of the Opposition — Hon. Fraser and Fahie – has resulted in the delay in the naming of Opposition Leader.