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May 30, 2018

PAC Report Coming, Doesn’t Look Good

Julius Espat

The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives has been making moves after a stuttering start due to several meetings being canceled. A report on the most recent Auditor General’s Report of 2012-2013 is due but according to Chairman Julius Espat, the consensus is that the government’s system of accountability and transparency in public finances is broken. He gives us an overview of the Committee’s work.

 

Julius Espat, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

“There is a meeting, I think, for the seventh of June; but we are now in the final phase. We have spoken to our witnesses already; I think we have all the information that is necessary. I have requested from the National Assembly to be provided with a format to be able to make the Public Accounts Committee report back to the House; we have been reliably informed that there is no format, because no report has been made in the past, so we are now in that phase to analyze how we will present our report. There will be a general report and there will also be a minority report. But in general terms, the consensus is that we have a system that is tremendously flawed in every aspect, where the Auditor General has stated that she cannot reconcile her report; the books are not reconciled, she cannot give a positive opinion on the report. We brought in the Accountant General who verified that; we brought in the Financial Secretary who verified that. So the way we are administering the people’s money is lacking; it is flawed; it is outdated; it is being run without any disciplinary procedures put in place. And it’s not been working since 1981; dah no like right now. That was one way that we managed to get all players together, to understand that it’s not about a witch-hunt, we want to go after this minister. That’s not the initial concept; the concept is to find out where we are wrong, and why we are wrong, and why is it that we are now going close to four billion dollars in debt. And that little report is showing you a lot of the examples of what we are doing wrong, and it’s scary. It’s scary when people at the level of administrators believe that not following procedures is fine, and that becomes the norm. So we have to do a report back to the House, and take it from there.”

 

Chairman Espat reiterated his call for the meetings to be public in the true sense of the word, noting that some of the answers he has heard during meetings would change many minds.

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