St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Ahead of Thursday’s debate, the parliamentary opposition had alleged that the Team Unity administration is attempting to water down the powers of an already existing Parliamentary Accounts Committee.
When Opposition Senator Nigel Carty addressed the parliament Thursday (August 10), he insisted that the government wanted to emasculate the committee.
“And this House for five decades or more, has lived by the basic principle that the duty of the Public Account Committee is to look into the public accounts, wherever those are, to look into every government department, to look at every account from where monies could have been spent be it on the Prime Minister’s home or not. The Public Accounts Committee must be empowered to do that.”
The opposition senator accused the government of introducing the new bill because it has something to hide.
“What’s happening here Mr. Speaker, is that we have backwardness, retrogress in terms of the advancement of our transparency and democratic processes in the country. There is a roll back it is the most callous aggregation of the duties of this national assembly to ensure that the monies, the finances, which are collected by this government from taxpayers, the serious duty which the Public Accounts Committee ought to have to examine the accounts to ensure that there is value for money, that there is effectiveness and efficiency and economy in the use of government’s resources. We’re now being told Mr. Speaker by those on the government side, that the Public Accounts Committee is no longer a Public Accounts Committee, that looks into the public accounts of the government and statutory bodies. The committee has now been relegated to a group of people to look at a report that is being put together by the auditor. That is what this bill is doing” Carty said.
Senator Carty evoked a few chuckles from the government benches when he said that the Labour Party would, when it returns to office, roll back the legislation.
“And Mr. Speaker, we want to give the undertaking that when elected to government the first order of business must be to roll back what is this atrocity on the people. Go around collecting people’s taxes, and then denying the public Accounts Committee what is its essential duty to perform which is to look into the public accounts of the people of this country.”