Former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, is giving high praises to the recently passed Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Legislation on St.Kitts-Nevis. The now Opposition Leader says he hopes the just approved Public Accounts Committee in Basseterre will inspire the reforming the PAC in Antigua
Antigua Opposition Leader Spencer says he is impressed with the St Kitts and Nevis Committee being put in place, compared to his own committee in St John’s.
The Former Antigua PM said “The Public Committee, apart from the Director of Audit, it really doesn’t have any other supporting bodies or institutions to work with it in order to be able to be effective in the discharge of its responsibility and to be able to report effectively. So I like what I’m gathering in terms of St Kitts in that they are going to parliament, they are passing a Public Accounts Committee Act which will lay out fully the rules and regulations, what will govern the operations of the Public Accounts Committee and that to me will strengthen the mechanism to ensure that there will be more effective review and reporting of the public accounts.”
Opposition Leader Spencer heads the Antigua Committee and admits that like the St.Kitts-Nevis PAC for the last 30 plus years has been largely ineffective . The new PAC Legislation seeks to correct that with the new legislation which would bring greater functionality and structure to the committee
Hon. Spencer commented to local media on the Antigua PAC and said “It never seemed to have worked because you don’t really have the kind of legislative and other underpinnings that would give it the kind of effectiveness, for example I must admit to you, as leader of the opposition in Antigua & Barbuda, I am the chairman of that committee. The committee seldom meets and one of the issues that confronts us, is the fact that the accounts are not made available as quickly as they ought to. Now there has been some improvement over the past several years but the reality is if you’re going to be effective in reviewing these accounts the accounts have to be reviewed in a timely basis, in other words they have to be presented on a timely basis so that they can be subjected the kind of effective review.”
The new Team Unity Public Accounts Committee lesgislation brings the the necessary framework to make the committee functional and effective.
Attorney General Vincent Byron said the Public Accounts Committee Bill represents an attempt to make the Committee a working, functional parliamentary watchdog body.
“A small committee to look at the report of the Director of Audit and say this went wrong, but we need to find out why it went wrong. The standing committee is expected to examine it properly and in so doing the bill that is currently before the House is intended to allow such a committee to invite, to summon witnesses, to give evidence to explain these anomalies and we draw the witnesses from the most senior of our public servants who have as their direct responsibility the management of the funds that this parliament has said we would have expect to raise and we expect to spend in such and such a manner.’