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Jul 12, 2022

Social Partner Senators Write to Tracy Panton About JPAC

Tracy Panton

The Joint Public Accounts Committee, an expanded working group that now includes three social partner senators to oversee government’s expenditure relative to its annual budget has only met on three occasions since it was formed in 2021. JPAC, as it is otherwise known, is chaired by Albert Area Representative Tracy Panton who sits on the opposition bench in the House of Representatives.  On July fifth, a letter was purportedly sent to her by four senators, including Elena Smith, Bishop Moses Benguche, Kevin Herrera and Janelle Chanona requesting that a meeting be called at the earliest practical date. That letter, according to Panton, never made it to her office. Nonetheless, it was provided to the media on Monday. In that letter, it states, quote, that if a meeting is not called within a reasonable timeframe, then as per standing orders of the House of Representatives, we will move to do so as members of the Joint Public Accounts Committee. It is a stern call to action that is being described as unnecessary, since the senators could have simply reached out to Panton via a different means. Earlier today, we spoke with Panton who explained the reason for the postponed meetings.


Tracy Panton, Chairperson, JPAC

“I’m not sure why the social partners felt that they needed to write to me.  I want to place on record that I have still not yet received either an electronic copy or a physical copy of the letter.  I became privy to the letter from a member of the local media and I have written to the Clerk of the National Assembly to verify whether or not the National Assembly has received the letter.  We were indeed scheduled to have a meeting in April and regrettably that meeting had to be postponed because, given a life-changing event for me, I had to seek some leave for the month of April and it extended into May.  So the truth of the matter is, the bottom line is that we are due to have a meeting.  We had originally discussed having meetings every four to six weeks, so monthly.  We have had three working sessions of JPAC and we were expected to have one in April.  So I have no difficulty and in fact, had reached out to an officer of the National Assembly to arrange a meeting and she had referred me to the clerk since she was no longer assigned to the JPAC committee.  I have no difficulty at all adhering to the request of my colleagues on JPAC to have a meeting because it is overdue for a meeting to be held.  There are a couple of things though, I believe that we have an open enough, or I thought we did, relationship and partnership and dialogue that if a concern of that nature had been raised among themselves, that a phone call to me would have been sufficed or an email or a text message, a Whatsapp message.”


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