PM Harris rushes to appoint Public Accounts Committee ahead of CPA Conference in St. Kitts and Nevis next month
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, May 21st 2017 – After nearly two and a half years of trampling on the St. Kitts and Nevis Constitution by refusing to appoint a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris is rushing to have one in place ahead of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference to be held in St. Kitts next month.
Opposition Parliamentarians, both at the Federal level in Basseterre and the Nevis Island Administration level in Charlestown, have been urging their respective Prime Minister Harris and Premier Hon. Vance Amory, to appoint the PAC in compliance with the Constitution. The Nevis Island Assembly is soon to end its five year term without a PAC ever in place.
Now with a conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) set to convene here in June, Prime Minister Harris in an effort to save embarrassment indicated last week that after two and a half years, he has “identified its membership and will propose to the Parliament the establishment of a five member committee comprising members of government and members of the opposition.”
The absence of the PAC in the National Assembly was raised with the recent IMF Mission to Str. Kitts and Nevis by Leader of the Opposition, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas.
The Public Accounts Committee plays a key role in public sector accountability. The Committee examines the Government’s use of resources and the financial operations of state agencies. It also looks at both financial probity and regularity, and focuses on whether agency programs are achieving their objectives. The PAC is chaired by the Leader of the Opposition.
Opposition parliamentarians in just nearly two and a half years of the Team Unity Government have listed among public concern, the EC$1 million said to have been spent on security equipment at the private home of Prime Minister Harris within a month of taking office; the handing over to Prime Minister Harris by the Venezuelan Government of a US$16 million check for payment to ex-sugar workers; (the Prime Minister says it is EC$16 million); the Stem Cell scandal at the J. N. France General Hospital; the allegation of EC$10 million in unaccounted PLP campaign funds; the EC$9 million increase in the cost of the new cruise ship pier originally tagged at EC$32 million and is now tagged at EC$41 million; the lump sum disbursement of EC$60 million from Social Security long before construction begun on new housing projects; the transfer of over EC$100 million from the Consolidated Fund in Basseterre to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), called budgetary support without parliamentary approval; the payment of two salaries monthly to the Premier and Deputy Premier of Nevis, who are also members of the Federal Cabinet; the recent report of US$190,000 being paid to the authorises in St. Kitts and Nevis for the continued protection of a Chinese national wanted in China.