Opposition’s renewed call for transparency welcomed
The main role of the Opposition is to question the Government and to hold them accountable to the public.
This is why the call last Wednesday by Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday for transparency and accountability in relation to government statutory bodies and corporations is as it should be, and a good first step by the Opposition.
But Dr Friday needs to go further, by pressing in the House of Assembly for answers to the questions he asked at the press conference and by immediately summoning a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), of which he is chair.
The PAC has not met for years, which is regrettable, as the proper and regular functioning of the PAC is crucial if the Opposition is to fulfil its important role of ensuring transparency and accountability.
A meeting of the PAC should be called at which questions should be put to the Director of Audit in relation to the financials of all Government companies and statutory bodies.
At Wednesdayâs press conference, although Dr Friday called for accountability for all statutory bodies, he focused his attention on the International Airport Development Company (IADC), a company set up in 2004 to oversee the construction of this countryâs largest capital project, the international airport at Argyle.
The IADC is not a statutory corporation, as it was set up under the Companyâs Act, not by statute. The reporting conditions of such bodies are therefore not identical to what is specified for statutory conditions.
Under the Companyâs Act, IADC is required to appoint its own auditor and the audited financials will then be filed with the Commercial and Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and also presented to the shareholder, which is the Government (Minister of Finance). He then, in the interest of transparency, should lay them before Parliament, as is done annually in the case of VINLEC, another wholly owned Government company.
The Unity Labour Party administration prides itself in being a practitioner of good governance. It is expected therefore that the Government will welcome this thrust by the Opposition and work with them to ensure transparency and accountability in relation to the IADC and indeed, all government bodies and companies.