Chairman: PAC Meetings should be Public

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Updated: October 18, 2017

The Area Representative for Cayo South, Julius Espat has been very vocal with regards to the responsibilities of the Public Accounts Committee, PAC, whose role is to examine how monies are being spent by the Government of Belize and to conduct forensic audit on specific areas.  The PAC was scheduled to meet last week but the meeting was postponed. Espat explained.

Julius Espat – Chairman of PAC

“Well there was no meeting held last week. We had a scheduled meeting and an agenda was set in which we invited the Auditor General to appear. About a couple days before the meeting I got a call and a subsequent letter from the clerk of the national assembly with a copy of the letter sent by the Auditor General’s Office stating that she was on duty leave I think is what you call it and after the duty leave she would be taking personal leave so therefore she wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting on the 12th. And therefore no meeting was held because if the Auditor General was not there as our first witness there was no reason to have the meeting and we were not prepared for anything else. I requested that hopefully she could attend the second meeting which is the 26th of this month so we will see where it goes from there. My concern is that the proposed meetings are still to be held in private and I believe that that is something that we all have to clamor for it not to happen. It is important that the Belizean people understand how government works, it is important for Belizeans to understand how these committees should work and it is imperative that this committee be held in public because only so can Belizean people see, understand and hear it for themselves the questions and answers that need to be voiced.”

In his letter to the President of the BNTU, Prime Minister pointed out yesterday that the Public Accounts Committee has been meeting and will continue to meet, thus making it functional. Espat disagrees.

Julius Espat – Chairman of PAC

“I am still fighting for this transparency which having it public will allow us to do and until that happens you won’t have a functioning Public Accounts Committee because we are still under the structure that is manipulated by the government representatives, two opposition representatives. I fundamentally believe as I did when I presented the motion in the house that the Public Accounts Committee should have participation of the social partners. It is important and we have seen in the senate inquiry where the social partners are critical because if a politician from any side including myself makes a comment or a question it’s taken with a certain grain of salt and I understand that but if you have social partners there like the Chamber of Commerce and the church the unions and now the NGOs then you now have true participation of objective minded people that supposedly are nonpolitical. Everything in Belize is politics we understand that but you are coming under a different umbrella and so the restructuring of the Public Accounts Commission if we truly want transparency and accountability which I think we desperately need in this country should be restructured and not by the Prime Minister saying ‘oh we will restructure it and I will give more power to the government.’ Remember the last proposal he made was to increase the government so, this is how the restructuring should be done in my opinion leave the four members of the government in place no problem, leave the two members from the opposition in place no problem, have the opposition member be a chairman that we agree still, bring in now not three but the four senators and the Prime Minister said that he needed help from the Chamber of Commerce to bring their legal minds to help him draft something that I had already proposed in the house, something that Australia has already which is a bicameral approach there is nothing difficult about that that you need a learned scholar to put in place it is there if the Prime Minister wants to do it he could go to the house meeting on Friday and have it done it is that easy.”

The PAC is scheduled to meet on October 26.