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Special Warrant approved for Yes campaign

Special Warrant approved for Yes campaign

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Under the present Constitution, the Director of Audit does not have to respond to a letter that Opposition Leader sent him on Monday seeking answers on a special warrant issued by Government.{{more}}

This is the view of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, Gonsalves addressed the issue of the much debated Special Warrant, which was approved for the financing of the ‘Yes Campaign’ to educate and persuade the electorate to “Vote YES”

in the November 25 Referendum, which will alter the present constitution if passed.

“As it is, the Leader of the Opposition as we know is opposed to the new constitution. But you know something, what he has asked the Director of Audit to do under the existing constitution, the Director of Audit would presumably reply to him out of a matter of respect, courtesy and because we have all encouraged our public officials to act with transparency.

“But as you see from this, the only time the Leader of the Opposition as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee under the current constitution has any juridical responsibility in relation to the Director of Audit is when the Public Accounts Committee meets after the submission by the Director of Audit of the accounts and his report.

Not before,” said Gonsalves.

The prime minister said he does not know what the Director of Audit will do in this particular case.

He repeated: “From a constitutional legal standpoint, Mr. Eustace’s letter can only trigger a response after a report has been submitted by the Director of Audit pursuant Section 76 of the Constitution in relation to the report mentioned in 75.2.”

In a press release, issued to the media on Wednesday, October 7, Hans King, Press Secretary to Prime Minister Gonsalves, said it is interesting to note that in his letter to the Director of Audit, Eustace invoked his authority as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“For several years now, the Leader of the Opposition, has failed and/or refused to summon meetings of the PAC despite public urgings by the Prime Minister for him to do so,” King stated.

The press secretary added it is to be further noted that the proposed new Constitution, which the Leader of the Opposition opposes, contains enormously increased power for the Public Accounts Committee, including the powers to summon public officials and documents.

“Indeed, if the new Constitution were in effect, the Leader of the Opposition would have had no reason to write the Director of Audit for answers to his queries; he could simply summon all concerned and all relevant documents on this matter before the Public Accounts Committee,” King pointed out.

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