Amid mounting calls for David Patterson to resign as Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Attorney General Anil Nandlall has explained that a motion of No-Confidence can be moved against the opposition Member of Parliament.
Calls have been mounting for Patterson to be removed as Chairman PAC after he admitted to receiving millions of dollars in gift items from agencies and departments under the then Public Infrastructure Ministry, which he headed in the previous APNU/AFC administration.
Patterson was appointed Chair of the PAC in December 2020.
When contacted on Thursday, Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, noted that there is nothing Parliament can do at this moment.
He explained that as it is, these are allegations and according to the Constitution of Guyana unless Patterson is charged and convicted for criminal conduct then they cannot intervene.
The Clerk noted that it will be up to Patterson to decide whether he will step down or not.
Efforts by this publication to contact Patterson were futile. Calls to Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, also went unanswered on Thursday.
When asked where the PAC can do anything in this situation if Patterson refuses to resign from Chairmanship, Nandlall, said “The Committee itself can move a motion of no-confidence against Patterson being the Chairman of that Committee.”
However, Nandlall contended that this is a question of morality and leadership. He pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee is the most fundamental mechanism in a parliamentary democracy to scrutinise the financial accountability of public expenditure.
“How can the person, who chairs such a unit, commit such an egregious and flagrant transgression against accountability and financial propriety as Patterson did and still continue to chair such a committee. It’s a question of public confidence, it’s a question of the moral authority of he who holds the Chair of such a committee and I dare say, that MP Patterson has disqualify himself from holding such a position,” the AG asserted.
He went on to to outline that Patterson has already admitted to receiving these items so the question of whether they were proper or improperly procured is now irrelevant.
According to Nandlall, “The acceptance by him of those items is what is palpably wrong. Moreover, he’s required to disclosed them as a matter of law to the Integrity Commission under the Integrity Commission Act. I could bet my bottom dollar that he did not do so. How can a minister accept gifts from a Department under his Ministerial portfolio purchased with public funds such as personal jewellery and bedroom furnishings?”
The Attorney General further noted that this is the most “obnoxious form of corruption and graft.” Her then questions how can the nation now reposes trust and confidence in such a person to exercise parliamentary oversight on matters such as misuse and abuse of funds, corruption and lack of accountability.
Asked whether the PPP/C Government will be taking any actions based on these findings, Nandlall said that the matter is under consideration.