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Nov 12, 2012

Auditor General absent from Anti-corruption PAC meeting

In Belmopan, the Public Accounts Committee was convened this afternoon but the meeting ended with a whimper. There was a huge hullabaloo prior to today’s meeting because of recent reports presented by the Auditor General, which show gross irregularities in government expenditure for 2010-2011. The chairman of the committee is Julius Espat, the area representative for Cayo South and Deputy Party Leader of the PUP. The Financial Secretary Joseph Waight and Auditor General Dorothy Bradley were summoned by Espat. Both did not show up, but there was quorum from committee members. Prior to the meeting, Espat, as well as former chair Jose Coye, made individual media rounds discussing various anomalies that were unearthed during the audit exercise. An invitation was also extended to the public and the media. But it was a closed door event and the Clerk of the National Assembly says there has to be consensus among committee members before the sitting can be opened to all and sundry.  Whether it is a case of misinformation or unfamiliarity with the existing protocols, our cameras were barred from the meeting, despite Espat quoting verbatim from the standing orders.


Julius Espat, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

Julius Espat

“Well this is a meeting that we had scheduled already.  It is the first working meeting of the Public Accounts Committee and we’re going in to make sure that we can start having the committee operational.  It has been a committee that, for the longest, has not functioned and the intent is to make sure that it works.  The reality is that we are looking for a bipartisan approach.  We want to make sure that the government ministers, along with ourselves, join forces to make sure that we put a system that is not functioning right now and make sure that it does.”


Isani Cayetano

“What are some of the primary concerns that can be shared with regards to the findings of the audit and, of course, the way forward?”


Rodwell Ferguson

Rodwell Ferguson, Former Member, Public Accounts Committee

“Well, as I’ve said, I sat on the Public Accounts Committee in the past and, as the honorable Julius [Espat] says, it has been dysfunctional over a period of time.  And as we went through the audit report we looked at different activities [where] there are some irregularities, especially in Corozal where there is a vehicle with a license plate that has been parked for so many years and they are still buying fuel for it.  We are seeing where we have a Solicitor General’s office, where one particular person gets most of the contracts to go and maybe defend the government and why are we paying all these lawyers in the SolGen’s office.  So there are many other discrepancies that we want to bring forth to the nation and this will be the beginning of an active Public Accounts Committee.”


Isani Cayetano

“In the media, this particular meeting was advertised, so to speak, as an event that is open to the public only [for us] to find out that the Standing Orders dictate that you would have to consensus as an entire committee to open the floor to public attendance.  Can you speak to us as to why it was so in the media this morning?”


Julius Espat

“Well, I don’t know which part of the Standing Orders says that.  I have a copy here of the Standing Orders and I’ll read it to you where it is quite clear.  It says, “Standing Committees, which includes the Public Accounts Committee, and it is Standing Order 72-3, which says, “Members of the public shall be allowed sufficient opportunity to present their views at the meetings of all Standing Committees.”  It is like the courts of Belize.  The courts of Belize are open to the public [but] that doesn’t mean that everybody goes.  That doesn’t mean that you can go in with a camera or you can make noise or you can create mischief.  It means that you are allowed to be there to listen and appreciate the proceedings.  If there is a specific cause or a specific question then, as chairman of this committee, we will set the procedures in place to make sure that it works properly.  The problem we are facing is a lack of credibility.  Government and its system has a lack of credibility and we are trying to assist this present government.  We are trying to assist Belize to make sure that we better that credibility and the only way to better that is to open it up so that everybody can see the proceedings and see that we are trying to do the best in carrying out the functions of the Public Accounts Committee.  But the initial intent is not to get into specific details; we want to give the Auditor General an opportunity for her to present her case.  She has done it in writing in the report and specifically she has some serious concerns and she’s requesting, she’s calling out to the Public Accounts Committee and the executive to join her so that she can properly carry out her function.  And that is our role I think, to make sure that we can embrace her and her staff to make sure that the money for the Belize is properly spent.”


When the Committee meets again, the chairman will be provided with an audio of the minutes of the previous meeting since he rejected the written minutes. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Auditor General absent from Anti-corruption PAC meeting”

  1. Storm says:

    What justifies GOB in excluding the public from any meeting that involves how they spend OUR TAX MONEY?

    The only things that should be closed to the public are meetings about details of national defense and possibly ongoing lawsuits in which GOB is a party.



  2. Rod says:

    This whole gov. The thief from the pm down every one the thief I say no one I mean no one should pay another one cents in tax until all the thieves are weeded out and put in jail no one should pay another coppa fu tax .

  3. Bzn says:

    I don’t seem to understand why Julius wants Mike Espat to be at this meeting!

    Julius seems to love controversy

  4. bzd2dbone says:

    From what I see in the Standing Orders, it is not saying that members of the public should be invited to attend the meeting. It is saying that they should “present their views at the meetings”. This clause can be broad and can be contested in a court of law. What we need is to have our policies be to the point so it may not be open for contention. Additionally, Mr. Espat should have known that it is not for him to make the decisions. We live in a democracy, not in a socialist republic.

  5. Nimbo says:

    Where is the transparency he so vehemently preached during his bis for PM? he is in the seat now so transparency out the window-typical.

  6. rubs says:

    very good, and let me share this with u guys.. this emmer vega from orange walk residing in benque viejo is getting a lot off contracts with government just because gasper vega is in position.. so, this vegas guys doesnt let benquenos people get jobs.. he has nothing to do with architecture but because off gasper vegas this emmer is getting the contracts and doesnt let the new architects gets a chance to work. come on GOB & AUDITORS please make a note off this and take any necessary actions. PLEASE.. lets be fair with other people.. IMAGINE RICH PEOPLE GETTING RICHER WHAT THE !@#$ IS C=GOING ON IN BZE

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