Opposition blasts Team Unity’s new PAB Bill as “toothless”

Press Release:-BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, AUGUST 15TH 2017 – The opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) have accused the Team Unity Government’s of watering down the Public Accounts Committee during the two days of debate.

Leader of the Opposition and Political Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), The Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas during his 80-minute presentation forcefully decried the willfull and undemocratic efforts of the Timothy Harris-led administration to remove the broad powers that hitherto had been given to the PAC and to restrict its investigative powers to the singular Report of the Director of Audit laid annually in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.

SKNLP Senator, Hon. Nigel Carty was of the view 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,” he said.

He suggested that the new Bill is an indication that the Team Unity Government does not want transparency and accountability.

“What we now have is 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.

Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 3 (West Basseterre), Hon. Konris Maynard in a broad-side attack on the Bill, revealed several instances of subterfuge and deception of the government.

“This government cannot continue to run a democracy at the level of its convenience. We have past those days. We are a maturing state and although small, we are small enough to achieve the things that the people of St. Kitts and Nevis want to see us achieve. Can no one among on the government benches see that it is wrong, that established duties that are common across the globe and in the Commonwealth can be shut out and replaced with a demeaning power solely to examine a Report of the Director of Audit. Can no one say that this is wrong? While countries are expanding the powers of the PAC, St. Kitts and Nevis is limiting the powers,” said Maynard.

The Assembly’s youngest parliamentarian’s “immaculately-researched presentation” highlighted that PACs in several nations of The Commonwealth which are given broad authority so as to be able to ‘follow the money’ and report on matters of corruption, efficiency and the economy.

SKNLP chairperson and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 2 (Central Basseterre), Hon. Marcella Liburd and Hon. Patrice Nisbett, representatives for St. Christopher 2 and Nevis 11 respectively, both seasoned lawyers, led an utter dismantling of the proposed legislation, concluding that it was merely an attempt by the PLP/CCM/PAM government to render the PAC toothless and to frustrate its work.

The Opposition Parliamentarians took the government to serious task and to provide a platform for the growth of already rampant public corruption, to facilitate the lack of transparency and to undermine the practice of good governance.