March 25, 2021
For Immediate Release -To all Media
APNU+AFC condems PPP government’s disregard of Standing Order
requirements in relation to the Chair of the PAC.
A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) condemns the attempts of the PPP Government to further dismantle the guardrails of our democracy through the efforts of its members in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
In this most recent instance, they seek to erode the meaning and spirit of Standing Order SO 82 (2) which grants the main Opposition in the National Assembly the right and power to select the Chairman of that Committee.
There is a significant history and an important purpose why this entitlement belongs to the main Opposition. Scrutiny of spendings and of all other financial matters demands impartiality; and, a Chairman from the Opposition appointed exclusively by the main Opposition is fundamental for such impartiality.
The APNU+AFC thus finds reprehensible the device and artifice being utilised by the PPP to erode this entrenched norm, which is to demand a removal of the duly appointed Chairman David Patterson via a no-confidence motion. The APNU+AFC maintains that the lawful selector of the Chairman of PAC is the main Opposition.
The law and practice on this matter is certainly not who the Government finds unfit and improper, but who the main Opposition finds fit and proper. Otherwise, the Government by such a device of a no-confidence motion can become the final selector of the PAC’s Chair, thereby completely eroding the intent and purpose of SO 82(2). Just like Bishop Edghill and his team is seeking to do David Patterson, they can easily do so to Ms Fernandes, Mr Figuero, and Mr. Mahipaul.
In the last Parliament the APNU+AFC Government respected the Opposition’s PPP appointee, Mr Irfaan Ali, who was allowed to chair the committee, despite being charged with multiple offences, because we respected the sanctity of the tradition that was enshrined in the Standing Orders and the non-violability of SO 82 (2).
This longstanding standard should be reciprocated and borne out in this Parliament.
Finally, this attempt at Mr Patterson’s removal is what is stymieing the work of the PAC presently. It is absolutely not his absence, or inaction or stalling. Hence, there is no need to even give SO 95 any attention as the Government team is seeking to do, muchless any weird amendment to any of the Standing Orders.