Senator Elena Smith responded to questions regarding the work of the Joint Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly. The committee, chaired by Albert area rep. Tracy Taegar-Panton intends to hold regular meetings in the coming weeks and months. Panton has criticised the government for failing to appoint an Auditor General and that person is critical of the work of the JPAC. Senator Smith says she agrees that the Auditor General needs to be appointed now, but the JPAC’s work can continue.
Senator Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “There are reports that we have not looked at yet and so it’s not that there’s nothing to do. We can look at those ones that we have already but it’s important that we have an auditor general put in place because the work going forward is important and so for the time that we didn’t have one and for the years that no reports were presented, we have to get those reports. Those are important and so we cannot expect that the JPAC will do its work properly if there is no auditor general in place to present reports. We have to depend on her reports to do our work and so she is right in terms of saying that that space, that position is key and it must be filled urgently.”
Senator Smith also called on the representatives of the two mass parties, who sit on that committee, to attend the meetings when they are held. She said that if they can’t do the job, make room for someone else who can.
Senator Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “We cannot be sitting and finding fault of the other side and we are doing he same thing and so we as social partners ensure that we attend those meetings. Even if three of us can’t be there at least two of us are there but for whatever reason, we don’t see that coming from the political sides, from both sides because we only see Hon. Tracy at those meetings and then we only see Hon. Julius Espat at those meetings. Where are the other persons? And so this is an important body. This is an important work that we have to do. If it is that they cannot attend then they must then say to their leader, listen, I don’t have the time. Appoint somebody else. But the work of the committee must continue and so I want to urge both sides, all the persons who have been put on that committee for them to find the time, to take the time to attend these meetings. If not, then give it up. Just give it up and have somebody who has he time or has the interest so that we can carry out our work.”