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Nov 14, 2012

P.M. tongue-lashes Julius Espat; but agrees media should be allowed in PAC meetings

Dean Barrow

Hearings by the Public Accounts Committee and whether they should be held public have been hotly debated for days. Its present Chair, Area Representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat, says they should; but due to wrangling among committee members, Tuesday’s hearings were held behind closed doors and then quickly adjourned. Espat maintains that the U.D.P. is trying to suppress the committee because of a glaring report by the Auditor General Dorothy Bradley which highlighted the bad state of government accounts. The Prime Minister lashed out at Espat.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“How many times have I said publically to Julius, learn the standing orders? In this case, I am not sure whether it is ignorance and incompetence alone or whether there is not malice. He first of all note that the U.D.P. attended the first meeting that was called at which he was elected chairman before the Chamber of Commerce made that call. So there is no question of the U.D.P. trying to frustrate the committee’s getting off the ground; this was in October. That meeting agreed on the first working meeting being called for Monday and all our members except for Erwin Contreras attended that meeting. Mister Espat in his usual incompetent fashion submitted an agenda for the meeting and required the clerk of the National Assembly to summon both the Auditor General and the Financial Secretary. It was pointed out to him that the standing orders require that these people be given seven days notice. He had failed to observe the standing orders. He went along with his spokesperson Vaughn Gill to see the Financial Secretary who said well, you haven’t given me the notice but I am prepared to come. But as to the logistics of this thing, let me turn you on to Mister Gandi, the Ministry of Finance’s Legal Advisor, so that you can get some help with respect to ensuring that you are within standing orders. Gandi reports to me that he looked at the agenda and he learned from Espat that apart from the question of wanting to summon the Auditor General and the Financial Secretary, he wished for the first meeting to be held in public. Gandi pointed out to him that the standing orders don’t allow for that to happen except the committee votes otherwise. And asked him to insert a new agenda item to deal with a resolution for the work of the committee to be done in public; it can happen. Mister Espat said that he will do that. I don’t know if thereafter, he figured that well if I introduce that resolution, the U.D.P. won’t vote to support it. However, he simply thought, look let me try and make some mileage. Let me unilaterally and illegally and improperly invite the media and declare that the meeting will be held in public; notwithstanding the standing orders; notwithstanding what Gandi has told me; notwithstanding the effort that is being made to help me to achieve that objective. Let me do this so that when recourse is had by the U.D.P.’s who want to do things properly to the standing orders, I can turn around and say see it is because they don’t  want the public’s spotlight to be shun on the process. No man, this is a manufactured issue.”

 

With the public clamoring for transparency, the Prime Minister conceded that Government supports that the media should be allowed at PAC hearings. But the prime minister says the hearing should consider reports dating back to the previous administration with the report for 2000.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“All Julius had to do was to abide by the rules and put forward the resolution for a public hearing which the U.D.P.s were going to support. We are going to support that the committee meet in public—of course there will be some logistical difficulties; certainly the media can be there.  The meeting room might not be able to accommodate as many people as may want to be there, but at the least, the principle that it should meet in public we will support because there is nothing to hide. The current Auditor General report speaks as to come difficulties and challenges in government; it doesn’t indict any U.D.P. politician. And what Mister Espat needs to recognize and what I wish to point out to the media and the public now is this: there are several Auditor General’s reports going back to 2000 or something like that and you will treat with these things in the proper sequence. I’m not a member of the committee, but this will certainly be my advice to all members; don’t think that you can jump the cue and say let us focus on the one that’s just been submitted. What about the one that was submitted last year? What about the one that was submitted year before? What about the ones that were submitted when your party, Mister Espat, was in power? Let’s treat with them each in turn and let’s do it publicly so that there can be complete transparency and so that both of us—both parties—can demonstrate that these are matters that ought to involve in fact the media and public scrutiny.”

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6 Responses for “P.M. tongue-lashes Julius Espat; but agrees media should be allowed in PAC meetings”

  1. Ricky Malthus says:

    Barrow speaks from lack of informed financial intelligence or he is just trying to gyrate his legal mind to finesse his slick misinterpretation of the standing orders and the most current Auditor General Report. Standing Orders are just guidelines or sign posts to regulate order but as Belize is and will be in energency status for the next 15 years at least, logic and expediency demand that all these formalities and decorum be superceded by effective action and solve the financial chaos. Belize owes $1.7 Billion US dollars. Barrow, singlehandedly is responsible for $550 million and amount equal to the Superbond and not to mention another $610 million he incurred in the last five years for mainly internal debts. We want the current Auditor Gen report analysed publicly. we don’t want obfuscation by Barrow or any of his minions paid by our tax dollars. So let the show begin, Senatus Populusque Belizeanus.

  2. Rod says:

    Look who the talk bout incompetence and ignorance the biggest incompetent boob in the whole country the same person who has been the cause of over three thousand deaths in 4 years the same person who has taken one of the most peaceful and patriotic countries in the world to the number six country in the world for murder and he has the nerve to call someone else incompetent what a joke I hope one day in the near future all the families of all the dead men women and children in this country will march on you .

  3. subKonshus says:

    Mister Barrow trying to distract as usual. Each year a Public Accounts Committee is appointed or elected. Obviously to deal with the current government accounts. So why go back all the way to 2000. If that committe at that time did not saw it fit to publicize those meetings and scrutinies so be it. That is in the past. This current PAC already has its hand full with the crap and shinanigans of your “transparent” administration. No need to burden them with accounts from the pass. I think Mr. Espats main objective is to set a new precedence as to how the review of the People’s Money is to be examined. When they meet behind closes doors this crap always happens. Its the UDP word against the PUP word, and we the people have to discern who of the two devils are telling the truth as to what transpired at the meetings. To hell with that circus. Publicize the damn meetings and let he people see your true intentions instead of all the lip service about transparency and accountability. I continue to stress, there is an idiot in the House , and he will reveal all your dirty secrets because he has the people at heart. To hell with the standing orders of that Dog-si-down House. Go Julius Go!

  4. Rules Bound says:

    We are tired of the PM’s fancy language and legal explanations. He is no longer in private practice to be offering legal explanations. He holds a public office and he promised transparency. We are tired of the PM hiding behind the law when it is convenient for him, and ignoring it when the law is not so convenient. Let the the hearings be public! We want to know what you have been doing with our public finances.

  5. Be honest says:

    I said it before and i will say it again Julius Espat is attention greedy.

    He reminds me of McAfee but with less money and li li li bit more sense!

  6. Seletar says:

    I will vote for any candidate who credibly promises to keep all aspects of public finance PUBLIC, and who will not put the nation further into debt, who will govern and spend within the nation’s means. If we had those things, the Jewel could shine again.

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