St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): After two days of heated debate, the Public Accounts Committee Bill and Related matters was passed Friday.

Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris wrapped up the debate Friday night.

“We are advancing the role of oversight of the government and as the Accountant General says the tabling of the Public Accounts Committee Bill is quite a timely and important legislative initiative of the government of St Kitts and Nevis. A functioning Public Accounts Committee has been a critical missing link in the public accountability framework of St Kitts and Nevis. After 20 years of the Douglas administration, a critical missing link in public accountability framework has been the functioning of the Public Accounts Committee. The passage therefore of the bill would provide another opportunity to promote and strengthen accountability, transparency and good governance in the public sector.”

The Opposition did not support the bill arguing it was a watered down version of what obtains in the commonwealth. Dr Douglas said “When you examine the Public Accounts Committee bill 2017 against what was there before, we recognize that it is very limited in scope Mr. Speaker, very limited in its power, and its roles and responsibilities. Very limited in terms of those who can appear before it, and Mr. Speaker if you want to go through this piece of legislation, you would realize from the very beginning that something is really wrong with it.”

The Public Accounts Committee’s duties include to examine the report of the Director of Audit that is tabled in the National Assembly; report to the National Assembly on any matter or items in the report of the Director Of Audit or connected to it; to inquire, in writing about any matter connected with the report of the Director of Audit and to report to the National Assembly on that matter, but the Committee cannot direct the activities of the Director of Audit. Sittings of the PAC are to be conducted in private and Committee members are not allowed to disclose evidence without the consent in writing of the witness.

The government appoints three members of the Public Accounts Committee, the opposition two. The Chairmanship of the PAC is offered first to the leader of the opposition.”

Clive Bacchus
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