Request by Communities PS for suspension of PAC sittings denied

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The consideration of the Auditor General’s 2016 report on Region 10 at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) began with the Ministry of Communities Permanent Secretary (PS), Emil McGarrell making a last ditch effort to have the sitting suspended.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communities, Emil McGarrell

It was not to be, however, as the Committee ruled against this proposal.

McGarrel had written a letter last week to PAC Chairman Irfaan Ali asking for the sittings to be suspended over the unpreparedness of accounting officers.

At today’s sitting, McGarrel raised his request again. But Ali was having none of it.

“We have all the officers present for region 10 and this was a region we examined before. This is a region we left paragraphs open. So I expect region 10. The auditor general report has been with you (since last) year.”

In addition, Ali reminded McGarrell that the Auditor General had sessions with the various accounting officer. He also noted that accounting officers don’t have to invent answers.

As such, the Chairman noted that they should be prepared to answer questions. At this point, however, Committee member Volda Lawrence asked for an adjournment so the Committee could deliberate together. They subsequently returned with a very firm no.

Former Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill

When the initial letter requesting the suspension was sent, Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill had expressed his absolute disapproval.

“The nation should be appalled that duly appointed Accounting Officers of the ten Administrative Regions of Guyana are seeking shelter through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities from appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly,” he said in a statement.

According to Edghill, “It is no secret to the public that some of these officers have been found to have violated the Procurement Act, the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA), stores regulations and even policies set by the Granger Administration” he said, recalling that of recent months, the Regional Executive Officers (REO) and huge delegations have attended PAC meetings to give an account of their stewardship and to answer queries, raised by the Auditor General, in his report for the fiscal year ending 31st December 2016.

Moreover, the Opposition Member said that “the ineptitude, incompetence accompanied by the twin sins of ignorance and arrogance have been on open display in some of these sessions.”

He further noted that most recently, the REO of Region Five wrote the Auditor General insinuating that documents would only be made available to the Audit Office when he approves it.

“This shameful and dismal performance of Public Officers must be dealt with by President Granger and the Ministry of the Presidency because the buck stops at him, they are his representatives,” he maintained.

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