PAC on chopping block
The Public Accounts Committee of Barbados’ Parliament is meeting today on the eve of a Bill that seeks to repeal it.
A Bill to revoke this instrument of Parliament has been tabled in the House of Assembly and members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party are charging it was done hurriedly to stump their work in probing financial management of statutory corporations.
The Bill, tabled in the name of Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, was last night described by Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, as “the ultimate insult” in the week of layoffs.
“You think he would be coming to you to talk about the people who are being sent home. But can you imagine, having not found it possible to address these 3,000 people and the rest of us, that he has brought a piece of legislation to repeal the Public Accounts Committee legislation on Tuesday in Parliament,” she said at a People’s Assembly at the Springer Memorial School.
Mottley who chairs that committee indicated that despite the pending effort to cancel its functioning, she will go ahead with a scheduled meeting today.
“The Public Accounts Committee is due to meet tomorrow [Monday] morning. Parliament is to begin Tuesday. We are going to do our work so long as there is a quorum… witnesses have been summoned from the National Housing Corporation and we are to meet again. But we do so against the background of a two-clause bill,” she said in reference to the Bill.
Along with Mottley, the Committee comprises Opposition MPs Owen Arthur, and Kerrie Symmonds, with the Government parliamentarians being Richard Sealy, Adriel Brathwaite, David Estwick, and Donville Inniss.
Contending that government has in the past been trying to obstruct the Committee in carrying out its functions, she said, “The last time the Public Accounts Committee was to meet, was the 13th of December, two weeks as is customary was given to every member, and all of a sudden that was the morning that Chris Sinckler wanted to deliver his ministerial statement to the country”.
That committee’s investigation of NHC finances last year erupted into a dispute between Opposition and Government, with the administration arguing that the probe was partisan and the Opposition claiming obstruction in its work.