Following the passage of a motion by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira, which sought to adjust the Standing Orders governing the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), many persons from civil society have come forward, labelling the move as a blow to transparency.
However, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, believes that the change to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) quorum will enhance accountability.
During his Tuesday night “Issues in the news” commentary, the AG noted that the Committee is chaired by the Opposition with the expectation that they scrutinise the government.
“What we found happening was because the Committee is scrutinising the APNU years – 2016 and 2017 – three members of that Committee can come together and make a quorum and start the meeting and proceed to rush through accounts relating to the years the APNU/AFC was in government. Now, how is that good for accountability,” Nandlall questioned.
The AG added that the previous quorum did not allow equity and transparency.
“We have changed it to say look; the Opposition remains the chair and balance. Let there be equity, let there be parity. The Opposition is one, which is the Chairman, two government and two Opposition - a five-member Committee should form the quorum - nothing is wrong with that,” the AG noted.
On Wednesday last, Minister Teixeria moved a motion in the National Assembly for the amendment of the quorum needed for a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting.
The new amendment to standing order 95 (6) mandates that five members need to be present before a meeting can be held. These members include the chairperson and two representatives from the Government and Opposition.
Previously, only three persons were required to be present, and it did not matter which side of the National Assembly they represented.
The PAC, which Opposition MP Jermaine Figueira chairs, usually meets on Mondays to examine the audited accounts presented in the Auditor General’s Report.