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Feb 24, 2014

PAC Chairman on strengthening Parliamentary Budget Oversight

Julius Espat

PAC Chairman Julius Espat recently attended a special conference on strengthening Parliamentary Budget Oversight. At that conference he was invited to give a presentation on the Opposition’s proposal to restructure the PAC. And in addition, Espat says, he also brought up the scenario of the PAC as it operates currently in Belize. The conference included parliamentarians and auditors-general from across the region, and in that setting Espat asked the important question, where the PAC is concerned.

 

Julius Espat, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

“Are we in error by not participating in the ongoing saga of the Public Accounts committee chaired by the Pro Tem Chairman John Saldivar, who by the way was acting prime minister at the time when he declared himself pro tem Chairman. And they are saying…explain to us how it is that they are analyzing the past, like the Venezuelan grant or the soybean project or the audit of some year 2000 and odd… and I said well they go in, they have a public hearing, sometimes it lasts an hour, sometimes it takes twenty minutes, they ask a couple questions and its over…they go to another scenario…they go to…if today it’s Venezuela, tomorrow it’s soybean. They said that is showboating, that is exactly what it should not be. They are saying that on average any investigation that PAC does on average takes approximately eighteen months for it to be done properly. It has to be analyzed, it has to be investigated, the proper information has to come forward, the proper professionals have to come in to do it properly, then you have in-house hearings and then they come with the public hearings. And then a report has to go back to Parliament, because remember that PAC only recommends, so that then the Parliament agrees that the proposal that the PAC is doing is something that needs to be done. If it has any criminal charges then it goes to the DPP. But we in Belize see how that happens, when not even the Commissioner of Police is willing to do his job when it pertains to a certain issue. And that is the problem which the social partners have stated, that the PAC meetings that are being held are a charade, and it is exactly that. They are saying that if we had joined with that, then we would have given it credibility, and it would have seemed that it is normal and it is happening and it is working for and on behalf of the people of Belize, when in reality it is not.”

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