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Tracy Panton says JPAC meetings will resume soon

Albert Area Representative, Tracy Taegar-Panton has spoken out on the letter four senators have signed, asking for a meeting of the Joint Public Accounts Committee, which Panton chairs. Senators Elena Smith, Bishop Moses Benguche, Janelle Chanona and Kevin Herrera have requested that Panton call a committee meeting at the earliest practical date. The senators say that since only one meeting has been called for the year, the situation is (quote) “concerning and rapidly becoming unacceptable”. (Unquote) The Senators say that if Panton does not call one soon, they will do so on their own.  Panton today confirmed that while she’s not seen the letter, she’s already made moves to have a meeting, as early as next week. 

Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “Certainly the standing orders makes provisions for a quorum to call a meeting is a meeting is not called in a timely manner. We were to have a meeting in April however because of personal life events for myself I had to take leave in April and I extended it in May. So I have not been available to convene a meeting but I am certainly very happy to meet with my colleagues at any time. Even though I have not yet received this letter that has been shared with the media not electronically, not physically I have not been called or asked for a response from my colleagues in the Senate I am prepare and I wrote a letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly yesterday to do two things to verify that the National Assembly has received that letter because I see they were copied and normally the clerk’s office serves as the secretariat so to speak for the House Committees. And two to suggest some dates as early as next week so we can meet and discuss the issues that they may have and find a way forward.”

And while she plans to get JPAC meetings restarted soon, she said that the committee’s work is difficult because there has been no Auditor General for almost a year and Government has not made any moves to put one in place. 

Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “I think it’s very important and what I find unacceptable is to note that we don’t have an Auditor General, we haven’t had an Auditor General for seven months. I called just two weeks ago to the Ministry of Public Service to find out when an Auditor General would be appointed because the work of the Auditor General and the Auditor General’s office is critical to the functioning of JPAC. JPAC normally reviews the reports coming out of that office and since this new term there have been no new reports or audits sent to the House of Representatives from the Auditor General’s office and so we share a symbiotic relationship and I think it would be very instrumental for the Auditor General to be in place for the work of JPAC to be most effective and efficient. Yes we have changed the structure of the Public Accounts Committee to include the social partners but not very much else has changed. There has been no support systems of mechanisms put in place to support the work of JPAC outside of the Auditor General’s office so it makes it a little challenging but not impossible.”