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There is a standing resolution of Public Accounts Committee that requires it to meet Mondays and Fridays

Dear Editor,

Gail Teixeira is being deliberately misleading concerning the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and a motion to rescind a resolution of the Committee. This, therefore, requires me to bring clarity.

The facts are as follows:

1. The Public Accounts Committee has a backlog of work dating from 2016.

The Auditor General has been up to date with regards to the Auditor

General’s Reports. The 2020 Auditor General’s Report was presented to the

Speaker of the National Assembly in September of this year and at that

ceremony no less a person than the Speaker himself ‘charged’ the PAC to clear the backlog of work to examine the recent Auditor General’s report.

2. Accordingly, the PAC, recognizing the need to clear the backlog of work passed a motion to meet two times per week, Mondays and Fridays. The

motion as carried became a resolution of the Committee.

3. At the first Friday meeting after the passage of the motion, no

Government member attended. More shocking, was the absence of all the

Advisors to the Committee and the agencies that were supposed to be examined. The Auditor General, Accountant General, Finance Secretary,

Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, and Ministry of

Health were all no-shows.

3. At the meeting on Monday, October 18, Gail Teixeira submitted a motion to rescind the resolution of the committee which was passed to enable the PAC to meet twice weekly. It was a one-sentence motion that simply called for the rescinding of the motion that was passed at the 17th Meeting of the PAC.

4. The Chairman after listening to both sides of the committee adumbrated

that there is a need for time so that he can consult and get the best guidance in moving forward. He requested Monday, October 25, 2021. This was accepted unanimously. The committee moved on to the day’s business.

5. At the close of the day’s business the Chairman adjourned the meeting to Friday, October 22, 2021, in keeping with the resolution of the committee.

For clarity, it must be understood that not because the committee accepted unanimously to allow the Chairman the time, he requested to address Ms. Teixeira’s motion, it means that the resolution can be breached. There is a standing resolution of the Committee that requires it to meet Mondays and Fridays. There is no danger of a miscarriage of justice nor any jeopardy that will result from the PAC on the two days as resolved. Therefore, the Chairman adjourned the meeting to Friday, October 22, 2021, in keeping with the resolution of the Committee.

It is important that the work of the PAC be allowed to go on without the  malevolent actions of the government side.

Those are the facts.

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Mahipaul, M.P.

PAC Member

Original Post

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Why is Gail Teixeira being deliberately misleading concerning the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and a motion to rescind a resolution of the Committee?

Ali needs to crack the whip on these slothful Ministers. They could be seen socializing at various rum shops. There should be zero tolerance for their slothfulness.

Some thoughts for the newly appointed Public Accounts Committee

The essential fact is this Committee is a Committee of the House responsible to the House as a whole, and is not a battleground for party faction…I believe it is true to say that the authority of the Committee is greatly enhanced by its unanimous character and I hope the complete objectivity of its report. It is fair to say that many Honourable Members of both parties have made great endeavours and have sometimes sacrificed personal views to ensure that this shall be so. 

          Sir Harold Wilson, former British Prime

             Minister & Chair of the UK PAC

Last week, Parliament Office announced the appointment of members of 14 Standing Committees of the National Assembly, including two important committees, namely, the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Constitutional Reform; and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Both committees have urgent tasks ahead of them. In relation to the former, considering the events that took place since the 21 December 2018 vote of no confidence as well as the requirement for local government elections to be held next year, it is imperative for the Elections Commission to be reformed to make it a truly independent, autonomous and impartial body.

The excessive powers of the President also need to be addressed, including the various immunities from prosecution. Indeed, there should be provision for sanctions for any constitutional violation. One recalls the case of a former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who was impeached and removed from office for breaching the country’s budget laws. Additionally, Ministers of the Government must face prosecution if they violate Guyana’s financial and budget laws as well as the related constitutional provisions. Regrettably, the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act does not include a Minister in its definition of an official as it relates to offences under Section 85.

In today’s article, we focus on the work of the PAC, drawing heavily on our column of 9 July 2012 and included in this columnist’s book, “Public Accountability at the Crossroads: The Guyana Experience” and available at the Parliament Office’s library.

Some historical background information

The PAC is a creature of the UK parliamentary system which most, if not all, Commonwealth countries still embrace. In the UK, the PAC scrutinises the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of public spending and holds the government and its civil servants to account for the delivery of public services. It draws heavily on the work of the UK National Audit Office. The PAC plays a critical role in the democratic process by assisting Parliament in scrutinising the work of the government. In particular, it scrutinises the expenditure of the government using taxpayers’ funds, ensuring transparency and accountability within Government, and making recommendations to ensure taxpayers receive best value for money on government spending. The PAC is viewed as the crucial mechanism to ensuring transparency, accountability and honesty in the operations of government. It is imperative therefore for its members to have relevant technical expertise to ably discharge their responsibilities to the citizens of the country.

The concept of a PAC dates back to 1857 when a recommendation was made for the creation of a parliamentary committee to provide oversight of the government’s accounts. The leading proponent was Sir Francis Baring, and the idea was taken up by William Gladstone as part of the reforms he had initiated when he became the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The first PAC was established in 1862 under the chairmanship of Sir Francis by the following resolution of the House of Commons:

There shall be a standing committee designated “The Committee of Public Accounts”; for the examination of the Accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament to meet the Public Expenditure, to consist of nine members, who shall be nominated at the commencement of every Session, and of whom five shall be a quorum.

The UK PAC now comprises 15 members while in India, it consists of not more than twenty-two members, fifteen elected by Lok Sabha (lower house of the Parliament) and not more than seven from the Rajya Sabha (upper house).

Guyana Public Accounts Committee

In accordance with the National Assembly’s Standing Order 82, the PAC is to consist of not less than six or more than ten Members of the Assembly to be nominated by the Committee of Selection as soon as possible after the beginning of each National Assembly. By convention, the composition of this committee mirrors the representation of the political parties in the Assembly. The Chairperson is usually a member of the main Opposition party in the Assembly, normally a former Minister of the Government.

The PAC’s key responsibility is to examine the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by the Assembly to meet public expenditure and such other accounts laid before the Assembly as the Assembly may refer to the Committee together with the Auditor General’s report thereon. There is no timeline for the examination of the accounts referred to it by the Assembly, which is rather unfortunate. However, within ninety days of the presentation of a report from the PAC, the Government is required to table a Treasury Memorandum, setting out the actions it has taken, or proposes to take, in relation to the findings and recommendations of the PAC. It is only when this happens that the public accountability cycle is complete, and the Government is considered to have discharged completely and fully its stewardship responsibilities to the citizens of the country.

As they execute their duties, members of the newly appointed PAC need to be reminded of the need to avoid taking political positions. Indeed, the overriding consideration should always be to protect the public interest. In this regard, the words of the former British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson when he was the chairman of the UK PAC, are a timely reminder:

The essential fact is this Committee is a Committee of the House responsible to the House as a whole, and is not a battleground for party faction…I believe it is true to say that the authority of the Committee is greatly enhanced by its unanimous character and I hope the complete objectivity of its report. It is fair to say that many Honourable Members of both parties have made great endeavours and have sometimes sacrificed personal views to ensure that this shall be so.   

The PAC’s other responsibilities

Two other responsibilities have been assigned to the PAC, following the constitutional amendments of 2001. The first relates to the exercise of supervision over the functioning of the office of the Auditor General in accordance with the Rules, Policies and Procedures Manual of that office, as approved by the PAC. In this regard, the Auditor General is required to submit reports to the PAC on a quarterly basis on the performance and operations of his office. Additionally, he must submit annually a copy of the Annual Systems and Financial Audit Report. These provisions are contained in Articles 224 of the Constitution. The PAC must also ratify all senior appointments, as provided for by Section 14 (3) of the Audit Act 2004.

The second other responsibility relates to the appointment of a five-member Public Procurement Commission (PPC) from among persons with expertise and experience in procurement, legal, financial and administrative matters. By Article 212X (2), the President appoints the members of the PPC, nominated by the PAC and approved by not less than two-thirds of the elected members of the Assembly. The tenure of appointment is for three years. However, of those members first appointed, two shall hold office for four years. Members are eligible for re-appointment for one other term of office, not earlier than three years after the end of their first term. The first appointments were made in October 2016. Therefore, the Commission has been without the services of three commissioners for a whole year since no appointments were made upon the expiry of their tenure of office. The other two members’ tenure expires this month. It is hoped that the PAC will take steps expedite the appointment of new members of the Commission to provide the much-needed oversight of the procurement process to ensure transparency and competitiveness in the award of contracts for the procurement of goods, services and the execution of works.

The inheritance of the newly appointed PAC

The nine members of the newly appointed PAC are as follows: PPP/C: Gail Teixeira (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance), Juan Edghill (Minister of Public Works), Dharamkumar Seeraj, Vishwa Mahadeo and Sanjeev Datadin; and APNU+AFC: David Patterson, Juretha Fernandes, Ganesh Mahipaul and Jermaine Figueira. No doubt, Mr. Patterson will be the new Chairman, succeeding President Irfaan Ali when the PPP/C was in Opposition.

The PAC’s work has been badly neglected over the years, resulting in a build-up of backlogged examination of and reporting on the public accounts. The last report PAC report was in respect of the years 2012-2014. The PAC is therefore five years in arrears in relation to its work. This state of affairs is most undesirable, considering that the Government’s financial stewardship does not end until the entire public accountability cycle is completed. The cycle includes budget execution; mid-year and end-of-year reporting on the execution of the budget; annual financial reporting, ex post evaluation by the legislative auditor and reporting to the Assembly; PAC examination and reporting and reporting back to the Assembly; and the Government’s response via the Treasury Memorandum.

In principle, the cycle ought to be completed within 12 months of the close of the fiscal year to enable the full and complete discharge of the Government’s accountability responsibilities to the nation. It also facilitates consideration of the next fiscal year’s budget. It is undesirable for the National Budget to be considered in isolation of a detailed scrutiny of the results of the execution of the budget of the preceding year in the form of the legislative audit report, the results of the PAC examination and the Treasury Memorandum.

The following table shows the trend in reporting by the PAC of the public accounts over the years:

While it is somewhat understandable that the PAC’s reports for 1992 and 1993 were issued in September 1995, significant delays were experienced from 1994 onwards, with the PAC report for that year being issued six years later. To address the backlog, the PAC took the unprecedented action of considering several years together: 1995-1998, 2000-2001, 2002-2003, 2004-2005, 2007-2008, 2010-2011 and 2012-2014. Despite these efforts, the PAC is still to deliberate and report on the public accounts for the years 2015-2018. (The 2019 Auditor General’s report has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Since 1992, the PAC has examined and reported on the Public Accounts in respect of 23 years, that is, it took on average 15 months to examine and report on each year’s accounts.  At this rate, it will take another five years before the Committee completes its work for the four years of backlogged accounts by which time another five years will be added to PAC’s backlogged work.

By the time the PAC gets its act together, the findings and recommendations of the Auditor General would have been overtaken by time. Given the struggles we had to endure, indeed the battles that we had to fight, to restore public accountability after a 10-year gap, we must not only guard against any further slippages but also continuously strive to effect improvements in our system of public accountability.

The other disappointment is that the PAC does not examine the accounts of public corporations, other agencies in which controlling interest vests in the State, and statutory bodies. In all probability, these entities are in need of greater scrutiny by the Legislature, as the results of the 2015-2016 forensic audits will bear out.

To be continued –

Some thoughts for the newly appointed Public Accounts Committee


The inheritance of the newly appointed PAC

The nine members of the newly appointed PAC are as follows: PPP/C: Gail Teixeira (Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance), Juan Edghill (Minister of Public Works), Dharamkumar Seeraj, Vishwa Mahadeo and Sanjeev Datadin; and APNU+AFC: David Patterson, Juretha Fernandes, Ganesh Mahipaul and Jermaine Figueira. No doubt, Mr. Patterson will be the new Chairman, succeeding President Irfaan Ali when the PPP/C was in Opposition.

The PAC’s work has been badly neglected over the years, resulting in a build-up of backlogged examination of and reporting on the public accounts. The last report PAC report was in respect of the years 2012-2014. The PAC is therefore five years in arrears in relation to its work. This state of affairs is most undesirable, considering that the Government’s financial stewardship does not end until the entire public accountability cycle is completed.

The following table shows the trend in reporting by the PAC of the public accounts over the years:

To be continued –

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

AFC CALLS ON PARLIAMENT TO CONVENE ALL STANDING AND SELECT COMMITTEES

27Nov2020

afcnewAFC In the News, Press Releases

Georgetown, Guyana.

November 27, 2020

For immediate release to all media houses.

AFC calls on Parliament to convene all Standing and Select committees

The Alliance For Change, AFC, continues to call on the Parliament of Guyana to convene all of the Standing and Select Committees, in particular the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

General Secretary of the AFC, Mr. Patterson M.P. who is a member of the PAC, noted for the record that the Public Accounts Committee last met on August 6, 2018 – some 27 months ago, and at that time – they were about only 30% completed examining the 2016 Auditor General (AG) reports. In reality the PAC is some 3 ½ years behind with the examination of the Public Accounts.

In accordance with the Standing Orders, the AFC recognises that the Speaker must schedule the first meeting, which is simply to elect the Chairman of the PAC, thereafter it’s the Chairman responsibility to schedule and host meetings.

On behalf of the Alliance For Change, M.P. Patterson has written to the Speaker indicating that there should be no impediment to the hosting of the first meeting, since all that’s needed for a quorum is 3 Members and the opposition has four members. It is noted that the Chairman of the Committee must come from the Opposition – thus the attendance of the Government members, while desirable, is not necessary.

The AFC urges that should the Speaker be unavailable; the Deputy Speaker should be mandated to host the first meeting – note that a similar meeting in 2015 to elect the Chairman lasted all of 15 minutes.

The Alliance For Change stated that Opposition Chief Whip, Christopher Jones was informed a few days ago that the Speaker intended to schedule committee meetings next Monday and Tuesday. Although the AFC welcomes this announcement, we must highlight that our Standing Orders require Members to have 3 days’ notice before the holding of a meeting, and as of today, no Member of the Opposition received notice for a proposed meeting.

Members of the Public should note that the PAC does not only examine the AG reports, but they can also request special audits or reports.

Mr. Patterson stated that whenever the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sits to meet, he intends to request reports on several troubling issues that have are developing under the fraudulent PPP Government.

These include, GUYSUCO announced that they will be single sourcing 44 tractors from a company in USA. Not only will the AFC be asking the Public Procurement Commission to examine this procurement, but we will request that the Audit Office perform a value for money audit on this procurement,

The AFC questions How and Why was this company selected? What investigations were performed to ensure that these tractors are suitable for the soil and climate conditions in Guyana? – We recall Indian tractors that were purchased but could not work. Does Guysuco has any experience in operating and maintaining tractors like these? Is there training for staff to drive and operate the vehicles and implement a maintenance programme?

In addition the Alliance For Change will be requesting a report on the distribution of the COVID-19 relief fund and observed that although the financial expenditure will be included in the AG 2020 report, several other issues with regards to the distribution programme have arisen. These include complaints that several persons and areas have been bypassed. Large families who occupy a single building have reported that only a single family or part of the building have received funds. We have also received report that sections of communities supportive of the Coalition have been bypassed and public Servants seconded to outlying regions have not been paid. While the matter of payments will be in the 2020 AG report, the AFC seeks an Operational Report before Budget 2021.

End.

http://afcguyana.com/afcnew/?p=6780#page

Last edited by Spugum

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

it would appear since your ppp decided to bring their no confidence motion in december of 2018 they abandoned all interest in the PAC which met last in august 2018

PERHAPS, you can now slither off back into that little cave from whence you came

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

Like you just came out from under the rock? Why is it that your PPP nincompoops can't meet twice a week to clear up the outstanding matters?

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

This is 2021 they r not in govt now. If the PPP is "supposed" to be the better choice should they not correct this?

Last edited by cain
@cain posted:

This is 2021 they r not in govt now. If the PPP is "supposed" to be the better choice should they not correct this?

i posted the afc's press release above where they called for the PAC to be reconvened. prior to that the last PAC was held in august 2018

please cast your minds back to the no confidence motion (2018) and the decision by the ppp not to ever attend the national assembly again until after regional and general elections were held - they essentially shut down the PAC when that decision was made

i don't know what foolishness, indie (in his dreams) is saying

Last edited by Spugum

Eh-eh ...

Perhaps, PNCR/APNU/AFC were sound asleep so that the Public Accounts Committee's reports were neglected and left unattended since 2015.

@Spugum posted:

it would appear since your ppp decided to bring their no confidence motion in december of 2018 they abandoned all interest in the PAC which met last in august 2018

PERHAPS, you can now slither off back into that little cave from whence you came

@Mitwah posted:

Like you just came out from under the rock? Why is it that your PPP nincompoops can't meet twice a week to clear up the outstanding matters?

@cain posted:

This is 2021 they r not in govt now. If the PPP is "supposed" to be the better choice should they not correct this?

May 2015 to August 2020, PNCR/APNU/AFC were the government.

Composition of PAC during 2015-2020 period ---

5 members - PNCR/APNU/AFC -- majority of members

4 members - PPPC

Chairman - PPPC -- Opposition member is always the Chairman.

Perhaps the PNCR/APNU/AFC members were "extremely efficient" to have nothing done during the 2015-2020 period.

"cast your minds back to the no confidence motion (2018) and the decision by the ppp not to ever attend the national assembly again until after regional and general elections were held - they essentially shut down the PAC when that decision was made"

Attending the national assembly and attending to matters of the other aspects on various committees are distinct and separate issues.

Why are they not meeting up on Mondays and Fridays to attend to the outstanding matters? Save your lectures to the fella in the mirror.

Attending the national assembly and attending to matters of the other aspects on various committees are distinct and separate issues.

"distinct and separate" like the one and half brain cells yuh got knocking about that otherwise empty skull of yours

the public accounts committee (PAC) is a select committee of the guyana national assembly (parliament)

imagine YOU get to vote every 5 years

if you had the smarts to read the afc's press release i posted above you MAY have been able to spot a connection

here is what the press release said: "The Alliance For Change, AFC, continues to call on the Parliament of Guyana to convene all of the Standing and Select Committees, in particular the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)."

if the parliament is not sitting how will the PAC carry out its function? hope you realise it's the same MPs that sit in parliament sit on these committees - then again i can't take anything for granted as far as you and sachin_05 are concerned

Last edited by Spugum

Attending the national assembly and attending to matters of the other aspects on various committees are distinct and separate issues.

WHOA! So what dat mean?

Last edited by cain
Edghill: Figueira-led PAC is ‘reasonable and rational’

In a previous interview with the Guyana Chronicle, Figueira committed to hosting at least two weekly PAC meetings, aimed at clearing the backlog of work, before the Parliament goes into recess. “We on the opposition are prepared to do what is expected of us…which is to ensure accountability and transparency of the people’s money,” the young Member of Parliament said.

https://guyanachronicle.com/20...onable-and-rational/

PPP/C always afraid of transparency ,a matter should be of concern Ashni Singh (Ministry of Finance) spouse is at a top position in the Auditor General Office ,also the Auditor General is partisan towards the PPP/C.

@Anand posted:

PPP/C always afraid of transparency ,a matter should be of concern Ashni Singh (Ministry of Finance) spouse is at a top position in the Auditor General Office ,also the Auditor General is partisan towards the PPP/C.

apparently she (Ashni's spouse) gets to choose which auditors go on a particular job as well  - clear conflict of interest situation