PAC pauses work until House speaker’s ruling is handed down

Davis laments state of affairs and the FNM’s management of the nation’s finances

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Public Account Committee (PAC), which is charged with ensuring accountability in the government’s expenditure of public finances, remains in limbo as it awaits a ruling from House of Assembly Speaker Halson Moultrie on the scope of its investigations.

The opposition requested that Moultrie reexamine a 2015 ruling made by former speaker of the House Dr. Kendal Major, who ordered that the committee, one of the most powerful committees in the House, confine its investigations to documents tabled in Parliament.

Addressing the media at PLP headquarters, Davis said, “We would have reported to the House and we would have indicated to the House what we saw our challenges to be in being an effective committee,” Davis said.

“I also wrote specifically to the speaker asking him to make a specific ruling in respect to the width and breath of our mandate as we understand it, citing again, what we thought to be the practices and usages from time in memorial of the rule of the Public Accounts Committee, and he had promised, as he did, after we presented…, to make a ruling.

“So, I am awaiting that ruling before we make our next move.”

Asked whether the committee was reviewing any matters at current or planned to investigate a particular issue when the House of Assembly resumes in October from the summer break, Davis again said he was awaiting Moultrie’s ruling.

He, however, lamented the nation’s state of affairs and the Minnis administration’s management of the country’s finances.

Major made the decision in May 2015 after receiving an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General that said the PAC’s probe in the Christie administration’s Urban Renewal program was “legally improper” as the auditor general’s report, which raised serious concerns with the use of public funds in the program, had not been laid before the House.

In a recent interview with Eyewitness News Online, Moultrie said he plans to rule on the PAC’s scope of investigations by the opening of Parliament after it breaks for the summer.

Parliament is expected to resume on October 2.

“I sort of delayed my ruling with respect to the request of the opposition to review the ruling of the former speaker.

“The difficulty I am having is; I am having all sorts of problems getting the House Business and Rules committee to meet because there are certain deficiencies in the rules that should be corrected, and I would like to have [that] in place prior to my ruling.

“And so, I am being put in the position now where I will have to make recommendations in my ruling with respect to the changes in the rules because it doesn’t look like that is going to happen before we go into summer recess.

“I really want to be able to have my ruling prepared over the summer recess and to be ready for the opening of Parliament.”