Leader of the Opposition and First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie announced that he has not been able to convene a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) since being appointed Chairman of the PAC because members did not attend.
While speaking in the House of Assembly on 18 April, the comment about the Committee came up as the Opposition Leader rose on a point of information regarding the Auditor General’s Reports for the years 2010 and 2011 that were laid on the table of the House by Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith.
Both Hon. Fahie and Third District Representative Hon. Julian Fraser of the Opposition contended that the reports being laid should be accompanied by the Treasury’s report and the Financial Secretary’s report which the Premier stated he has not seen.
The Premier’s response prompted Hon. Fahie to declare that the PAC has the said documents, but is unable to debate the reports because they were not made public: “Being the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I am surprised to hear that the Premier has not received the Accountant General’s report from the Treasury…We in the Public Accounts Committee have received them, but can’t debate them because they have not been laid in the House. So they are documents that we have,” Hon. Fahie told the House.
The Opposition Leader explained that the reports the Premier said he did not have were requested by the PAC before and are in the possession of the Committee: “We have these information and they were requested long before I became chairman of the PAC – I must admit. But they were given to us – each member in the Public Accounts Committee. But we cannot discuss them until they are made public documents. I cannot understand how come they are not in the Minister of Finance’s hand.”
However, the comment about the documents being in the hands of PAC members was quickly refuted by Fifth District Representative, Hon. Delores Christopher who is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee.
In denying the claim, Hon. Christopher said: “I beg to state that is not quite the situation, because I don’t have a copy and I am a member of the Public Accounts Committee.”
Hon. Christopher’s disclosure prompted Hon. Fahie to admit that the other members of the Committee did not have copies. He explained that he was the only one with a copy because he could convene a PAC meeting.
“For the last four weeks I cannot get a quorum to have a Public Accounts Committee meeting, so the only person who would have them I guess would be me. Not because I didn’t want to give it to them, but because I couldn’t get a quorum,” Hon. Fahie told the House.
Meanwhile Premier Smith maintained that he does not have the queried reports: “The reports that are laid on the table -– the Auditor General’s reports 2010 and 2011 were the ones which were available, which I have brought to this Honourable House. As I understand, at the time of laying this report, I have not seen the report from either the Financial Secretary or the Accountant General. Those reports are with the Accountant General.”