PM Timothy Harris fails to appoint a Public Accounts Committee 21 months after start of new Parliament
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Twenty-one months into the life of the present National Assembly, the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government has failed to abide by the St., Kitts and Nevis Constitution and appoint the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the lawmaking body.
Member of Parliament for St. Christopher 3 (West Basseterre), Hon. Konris Maynard who has made the call with other opposition legislators on numerous occasions said it is obvious that the government has something to hide.
“Why is the Team Unity Government of Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris refusing to allow the people of St. Kitts and Nevis to know how their monies and taxes are being spent? What is Timothy Harris trying to hide? Why is it that Timothy Harris and Team Unity, when in opposition campaigned on transparency and accountability and will go down in history as probably the least accountable and transparent government in the Caribbean? What are they trying to hide,” asked MP Maynard.
He said the public also needs to know the cost to the taxpayers of the excessive travelling by the Prime Minister and the other ministers, in light of information that the entire budget allocation for travelling by ministers was exhausted in six months at the end of June.
“Is it to hide the numerous and exorbitant salaries that politically-appointed ambassadors, consultants and advisors are getting? Is it that there is a need to hide the fact, the notion or the possibility that the Prime Minister could have spent EC$1 million of taxpayers’ money to improve his private residence? What is Dr. Harris and his Government trying to hide that the Pubic Accounts Committee, which allows the Parliament to review expenditure to ensure it meets the requirements after parliamentary approval,” said the West Basseterre representative.
He pleaded with Dr. Harris, who is also Minister of Finance, to draft the required resolution, which is normally submitted at the Budget Session of the National Assembly following the opening of a new Parliament.
Prime Minister Harris has passed the buck telling reporters it is the duty of the Attorney General Sen. Hon. Vincent Byron to bring the resolution to Parliament, but when asked about the matter, Mr Byron said it is not his duty, but that of the Speaker.
The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee is the Leader of the Opposition and comprises members from both sides of the lawmaking body. The Hon. Mark Brantley, who served as Leader of the Opposition from 2010 to 2015 was the last Chairman of the Public Accounts Committed. He was appointed by then Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in May 2010 following the March 2010 general election.
It is the practice that the Leader of the Opposition serves as the Chairman of this Standing Committee of the National Assembly.
The duties and powers of the Public Accounts Committee, drawn from both sides of the lawmaking body are to ascertain that the authorised expenditure during each financial year including supplementary expenditure has been applied to the purposes prescribed by the National Assembly; scrutinise the causes which may have led to any excess over authorised expenditure and to verify applications of savings on other authorised items of expenditure; make an effective examination of public accounts kept in any Department of Government and summon any public officer to give any information or any explanation or to produce any records or documents which the Committee considers necessary in the performance of its duties.