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PM: Proposed Public Accounts Committee plan could have saved SVG millions in debt

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The new provisions designed for the Public Accounts Committee under the proposed new Constitution would have spared St.Vincent and the Grenadines millions of dollars in debt, had they existed in 1989 when the country operated without an Opposition.{{more}}

So said Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves as he addressed the nation via a live broadcast from the Methodist Church Hall where the National Round Table Discussion on the new Constitution was held last Monday evening.

“If we had the provisions then that we are going to have now for the Public Accounts Committee, Sir James Mitchell could not have gone to the House and give himself all the authority to deal with Ottley Hall and saddle us with $180 million in debt,” said Gonsalves.

The prime minister stressed that documents would have been made available to the Public Accounts Committee and the Opposition would have had an opportunity to deal with the issue in the House of Assembly.

“The public would have known,” said Gonsalves, as he reflected on the failed Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard Project.

Gonsalves said the 33 per cent votes received by the St.Vincent Labour Party would have allowed them to have three representatives in the House of Assembly, as well as the right to have an Opposition Leader.

“The deal would not have been a done deal just among one set of Parliamentarians,” said Gonsalves.

“Good governance, deepening parliamentary democracy, it is not a panacea but it helps us to avoid policy errors,” said Gonsalves as he pointed out the important role the Public Accounts Committee will now have.

Under the proposed Constitution, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly is expected to report to the Assembly in the case of any excess or unauthorized expenditure of public funds the reasons for such expenditure, and any measures it considers necessary in order to ensure that public funds are properly spent.

Also, under the proposed Constitution, the Minority Leader will serve as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly or designate as his alternate one of the members of the Assembly who does not support the Government. The majority of the members of the Public Accounts Committee will also come from among the opposition ranks. (HN)

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