Outspoken Opposition Parliamentarian, Bishop Edghill, on Monday minutes after being informed by the Clerk of the National Assembly that the meeting of the Committee of Privileges for which he was summoned a week prior, had been cancelled with no explanations proffered, said that there is a deliberate attempt afoot to besmirch his credibility.
The summons was issued on the heels of Edghill’s damaging expose in recent weeks of massive corruption and deliberate avoidance of, the Procurement Act and its accompanying processes involving billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent by the Administration, unlawfully, in the health sector as well as blatant violations of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act in respect to spending by the Ministry of the Presidency and the Office of the Prime Minister.
In an invited comment following the close of yesterday’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Edghill said “this matter only seems to be arising at special times with a view of intimidating and harassing.”
According to Edghill, “I feel harassed, I feel like I am not being given an adequate opportunity to clear my name as it relates to this matter.”
The Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament (MP) was hauled before the Committee after suggesting that the increases in salaries for members of the Executive would take a toll on the treasury to the tune of $1B annually.
The Committee met on November 25 last where Edghill presented his arguments in defence of his position.
He told media operatives at the very minimum an explanation could have been provided as to why the meeting was cancelled and questioned, “are we only going to have a meeting of the committee when all government members can be present?…if some members could not be present then there is an intention already determined.”
He suggested that the government side of the Committee wants to ensure and keep command of the voting strength on that forum.
“There is an intention to ensure an outcome and it must be determined by the vote and that is what is very concerning to me,” according to Edghill.
He noted that if it was a case of providing answers for clarity as was indicated in the summons then a simply quorum would have sufficed.
Asked about possible sanctions that could be instituted against him by the Committee, Edghill said he is unsure as to what was planned but was adamant that he could not be prevented from speaking in the National Assembly.
“I sit in the National Assembly not at the pleasure of the Speaker (Dr Barton Scotland) or Government.”
He told media operatives that as an elected member the only way “I can be removed is through the electorate…. I can tell you definitely the Chief Justice has ruled that nobody can stop a Member of Parliament from speaking because the right to speak is on behalf of the people who elected you there.”
He was making reference to the attempted gag of then Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee—litigation that was thrown out by then Chief Justice Ian Chang.
The former Junior Finance Minister declared however, “what I am concerned about is you have a Committee here is 5/4 and the Speaker is the Chairman.”
Edghill said he is wary of whatever instructions that would have been handed down to the government members.