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Sep 28, 2017

No Blank Cheques for Senate Inquiry

Dean Barrow

There has been widespread objection to Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s decision to disallow further allocations from the budget for the Senate Special Select Committee. The last allocation approved in August will take the Committee through November, a full year from its establishment. In his letter to the clerk of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister cited the need to fund implementation of UNCAC and the Integrity Commission.  But the Chamber of Commerce wrote him pointing out that funding for those units has already been secured and that the Government could not afford to ignore oversight of its functions. Today P.M. Barrow seemed to abandon that argument, citing instead the need to ensure that no “blank check” is being used by the members of the Committee to prolong the inquiry beyond what he feels is necessary and outside the fulfillment of their mandate.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I made the case that we all are hoping that at the end of the inquiry, the Select Committee will be able to offer findings and recommendations that can assist the government and the department and the country to avoid any repetition of the mistakes/wrongdoing that occurred. And so from that point of view, none of us can doubt the validity and the efficacy of the inquiry. But it cannot be open-ended, it is not something that can last forever. And you will forgive me if I have gotten the impression that there are certain members of that Committee that have reached a point where they are asking questions simply for the sake of asking questions, and in order to prolong the inquiry to an extent that I insist is unreasonable – if there is a specific objective to get at what went wrong and to offer suggestions as to how we might ensure that it not happen in the future. I closed by saying to them, listen; if the Committee will concede that it can’t be a blank check, that it can’t be open-ended, that Government cannot simply fall in with request after request for extra-budgetary – that’s what it is – allocation of resources, and if the Committee were prepared to offer to Government a clear timeline; if the Committee were prepared to say, look, we expect to conclude by December or January, something that’s reasonable, and on that basis to submit proposals for expenditure that would cover that remaining period in a reasonable fashion, Government would reconsider its position and not then insist on a cut-off after November.”

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