Statement by the Government Members of the Public Accounts Committee
We, the five Government members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have noted a press statement issued on “Office of the Leader of the Opposition” letterhead by Ganesh Mahipaul, Opposition Member of the PAC on October 19, 2021.
Mr. Mahipaul has misrepresented the facts regarding the “motion to rescind” brought by Minister Gail Teixeira on Monday October 18th, 2021, to the PAC meeting.
Here are the facts:
- The motion moved by Minister Teixeira, is perfectly in order, and in compliance with the Standing Orders. Minister Teixeira explained on Monday 18th October at the PAC meeting, that she had consulted with the Clerk of the National Assembly to ensure she was adhering to the Standing Orders.
- One of the functions of the Chairman of any Committee of the Parliament is “Putting motions and questions”. This, the Chairman, Mr. Figueira failed to do by not putting the motion as presented by Minister Teixeira to the Committee for discussion and a vote, if necessary.
- Another of the Chairman’s functions is “Balancing the rights and interests of the majority and minority in the committee”. On Monday 11th of October when the motion was moved by Mr. Mahipaul to meet twice weekly, Minister Edghill was in the meeting, virtually. This was pointed out to the Chairman by Member Seeraj. He was totally ignored and Minister Edghill was not recognized to make a contribution or vote on the issue. In fact, the Chairman insisted that Minister Edghill was NOT online. At the October 18th meeting, this was proven to be false as the log in records of the Parliament Office for that meeting proved that he was in the meeting at the time of the vote.
- The fact that Minister Edghill was denied his right to speak and to exercise his right to vote on the motion- although he was present in the meeting- illustrates the level of crass bullyism by the APNUAFC Members in the PAC.
- The Chairman, Mr Figueira, at the October 18th meeting, after saying he needed more time to examine the motion, although the relevant Standing Order was identified, was asked how much time he required, on more than one occasion he indicated (and the verbatim report of parliament will confirm) that Minister Teixeira’s motion will be on the agenda for the NEXT STATUTORY MEETING OF THE PAC TO BE HELD ON MONDAY 25TH OCTOBER.
- However, the Chairman, Mr.Figueira hurriedly closed the session by saying PAC is adjourned to Friday 22nd October and walked out.
- By preventing the motion from being put at the said meeting and then convening a meeting for Friday October 22nd with full knowledge that a written substantive “motion to rescind” had been tabled and circulated to all Members, is a clear and unambiguous attempt at deceit.
- The public is reminded that this is the repetition of the behavior of the former Chairperson, Mr. Patterson, who did not allow, in fact never allowed, a motion for his removal to be put to the committee from February to May 2021 in the PAC.
- In May 3, 2021 the Speaker of the National Assembly wrote the Chairperson that he had no authority under the Standing Orders to prevent a motion from being put to the Committee, in fact he was “compelled” to do so by the Standing Orders.
- The matter was successfully resolved by a motion to the House to remove him as Chairperson.
The least we have hoped for with any chairperson, and in particular the new Opposition Chairperson of the PAC. that he would have learnt from his predecessor’s fate and stick to the Standing Orders.
Alas, the APNUAFC Members of the PAC continue to re-affirm the public’s and the Government’s opinion that they are incapable of digressing from crass bullyism.
Furthermore, it must be noted that the PAC is supported in its work by the presence of statutory and constitutional representatives, the Financial Secretary, the Auditor General and the Accountant General. All of whom carry out hectic and critical posts in the executing of their mandates as well as the management of the government on a day to day basis. To have these key officers sit for 2 full days a week in the PAC means that the work of the government will be stymied. To vote as they did on October 11th without any consultation with these persons is also another example of bullyism.
Mr. Mahipaul has raised the amount of work pending in the PAC and is trying to throw shade on the PPPC Members.
But Mr. Mahipaul and company must answer –who held up the general and regional elections after his government fell to a no confidence motion on December 21, 2018 for 14 months, in violation of the constitution? And who is responsible for attempting repeatedly to hijack the elections and delay the declaration of the results of those elections for 5 more months? That is where two years was lost in the PAC to address the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Annual Auditor General’s reports. And who again, but the APNUAFC Members, by their bullying tactics in the new 12th Parliament PAC held up its work from February to May 2021, and appears to want to do the same once again.
The Parliament and its Committees are guided by the Constitution and the Standing Orders, and, we shall not allow persons, whoever they may be, to trample on the Constitution, Standing Orders, norms and conventions of our parliamentary democracy.
Gail Teixeira, M.P.
Bishop Juan Edghill, M.P.,
Dharamkumar Seeraj, M.P.,
Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo, M.P.,