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Sep 4, 2013

Public Accounts Committee Meets In Belmopan, Chairman and Opposition Members Walk Out

Today, the Public Accounts Committee held its first meeting since the call for its restructuring of its composition. Fireworks were expected as both sides declared that they would stand firm. Their positions are simple – the opposition members refuse to scrutinize Auditor General Reports dating back to 2003. They say their mandate is to look at current reports. The government’s position is that both old reports and new reports should be scrutinized, and they are not budging. But despite reports that today would be fiery and fierce, it really wasn’t. In the end, like any high-stakes poker game, one side had to hold, and one side had to fold. Mike Rudon was in Belmopan and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporitng

Just before 2:00 this afternoon, Chairman Julius Espat and opposition committee member Rodwell Ferguson walked into the National Assembly, headed for the room set aside for the PAC. They were followed shortly after by government committee members Michael Finnegan, John Saldivar, Herman Longsworth and Edmund Castro, standing in for Erwin Contreras and Patrick Faber respectively. Less than ten minutes after they were back out…well, at least the opposition members were. They walked out of the meeting in protest.

 

Julius Espat, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

Julius Espat

“I had a proposed agenda as chairman. They wanted to not agree to that and have a new proposed agenda and they said that I cannot accept any proposed agenda that goes against what the mandate of the Public Accounts Committee is and it is one of oversight. They want to go back and do what they call forensic auditing. They are trying to go on a political witch hunt and we are saying the Prime Minister and the cabinet has all the power to go to the House of Representatives and create a special select committee to do that if that is what they wish.”

 

About half an hour after that, the government members emerged, seemingly satisfied with the meeting, which was held despite the absence of the Chairman and Rodwell Ferguson.

 

John Saldivar

John Saldivar, Pro-tem Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

“The meeting was called to order by the chairman and we discussed his proposed agenda which was voted down by the majority members on the committee who proposed an alternate agenda and that agenda was approved by majority of member on that committee. At which point the chairman and his members walked of the meeting.

 

Michael Finnegan, Committee Member

“He made a proposed agenda to discuss the 2010-2011 auditor general report. Mr. Saldivar made a counter proposal that we proceed with the 2002-2004, 2004-2005 report. There was a stalemate in the democratic process then you will have to revert to cote. There was a vote and Mr. Saldivar’s proposal was accepted.”

 

Julius Espat

“Absolutely nothing, which is what the government wants, they want absolutely nothing to happen because the Prime Minister said that PAC has been a wonderful committee that has  functioned form time of beginning. But have you ever seen a report of a PAC tabled in the house, have you ever seen anything come out of a PAC from 1981? That should be the answer to the question.”

 

But however that question is answered, the fact is that the government holds the majority and is moving full speed ahead.

 

John Saldivar

“Once that agenda was accepted and the chairman walked out, under standing order we had the power to select a pro-tem chairman which was selected and I was elected as the pro-tem chairman and we continued with the agenda as accepted and approved by the committee. That agenda includes accepting a schedule of public hearing to deal with all the auditor general’s report that we have to review and that schedule has now been accepted by the committee and that meeting will be held on September twenty-third.”

 

The majority members of the PAC are stating that starting from that meeting and going all the way to July 2014, the committee will hold meetings on Mondays and Wednesday – one day to scrutinize pre-2008 Auditor General reports, and one day to scrutinize post 2008 reports.

 

Michael Finnegan

Michael Finnegan

“People want to see this committee function, so it is the responsibly to we as members to make sure the committee functions. People want to see these reports discussed, so we are going to make sure that it is discussed in opened areas. People will be summoned to meetings, auditor general maybe accountant general, C.E.O. whoever the case may be they will be summoned to this meet and we have to attend these by law in order for us to question them and this committee will proceed.”

 

Julius Espat

“What’s next for us, we will go to the people we will follow what George Price did. We will have our people’s assembly, we will go to each constituency and I start it by going Sunday to Corozal Southwest. Where I as the chairman will be making our report and we will be analyzing the auditor general’s report. I have been invited by the southern caucus to start a tour and we will explain to the people what transparency is all about.”

 

John Saldivar

“I had hoped that the chairman would have come here today understanding that we are ruled by a democracy in which majority rules and there are four members that have approved of this way forward and that he would have accepted that will of the majority and continue to chair these meetings.”

 

The pro-tem Chairman of the PAC has stated that from now on, all meetings will be open to the public. Mike Rudon reporting for News Five.

 

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6 Responses for “Public Accounts Committee Meets In Belmopan, Chairman and Opposition Members Walk Out”

  1. history minded says:

    These politicians are an un-laughable joke – all of em

  2. melvin says:

    saldivar and the udp looks they don’t understand wat th unions said,2 memebers of the unions/church would be good to be members of the comittee,so their can be transparency and accountability,saldivar and the rest of his minister are corrupt and they will investigate the auditor general’s report themselves? common they WILL COVER THEIR CORRUPTIONSSSS,and yes only the PUP one will be released-as they said majority rules? so?

  3. melvin says:

    please mein we are tired of theze corrupt politricians,we Belizeans deserve better,we are tired of playing politics to better themselves from theze ignorant,arrogant UDP government,majority rules? they nearly lost the elections,only by 60 someting they formed the govt’ and them wan fool the people that majority rules,its good start for the PUP to include a 2-UNION/CHURCH/ NGO to be members of the PAC commitee so their can be transparency and accountability thats wat this dean barrow govt’ promised and has failed this country in doing wat he promised.they themselves are doing wat they want because they are the ‘MAJORITY” and its not democratic and its not transparent.they are corrupt as some people say we changed ‘DOG FOR MONKEY”.

  4. Rod says:

    Judas goes to the us again this is his 21st. Leave from his job this year if you add this up the belizean public the po people in other words have paid 40,000.00 dollars in just plain tickets fro the barrows this year alone hospital bill well over a million dollars where does a prime minister get these kinds of monies I wonder.

  5. Liberty & Freedom says:

    The definition of a democracy – three wolves and a sheep deciding what is for lunch..

  6. macal rivera says:

    I THINK THIS WHOLE PAC THING IS A BIG JOKE INA THE THIS CIRCUS, HOW CAN THE PEOPLE TRUST PUDP??

    IF JULIUS WANT TRANSPERENCY LETS START WITH HIM??? THIS MAN TALK AND TALK LIKE IF HE IS SABELO TODO BUT HE NO REALIZE HOW STUPID HE SOUND, HOW CAN WE EVER TRUST ANY PUP???? THEY ARE WOLFES IN SHEEP CLOTHING, JULIUS THE BARK LIKE A RABID DOG ABOUT TRANPERENCY AND REFORMATION!!! MY @$$, ONCE PUP WIN ALL THAT WILL CHANGE, THEN WE THE PEOPLE GET THE BUCCUT INA WE @$$.

    TIRED OF PUDP,

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