By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
Auditor General Dorothy Bradley said she is open to dialoguing with civil society on ways to raise awareness and apply pressure on the government for the reform and reconstitution of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“I have absolutely no problem with that; I am very open and I think for the most part they know that; I trust that they know that,” Bradley said, indicating her willingness to partner on the issue.
Bradley explained that having a properly functioning PAC would directly affect the ease with which Belizeans could access the information and findings of the audits her office conducts.
Bradley’s office is supposed to work closely with the PAC and all her reports should be submitted to that oversight body.
Bradley has maintained that the PAC, as currently composed, isn’t effective and has also maintained that the current construction of the body has isolated her office from the oversight entity.
Arturo Vasquez, Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)’s president, told The Reporter that the chamber is also willing to come to the table and dialogue with Bradley on ways to address the issue of fixing the PAC.
Vasquez said that the PAC’s current configuration provides no real transparency and accountability, as the government had promised during their campaign, and said reforming the body would be a significant step into correcting oversight in Belize.
Vasquez also mentioned that the implementation of the 13th senator would play a great role in increasing oversight.
He added that he is currently in the process of trying to regroup and convene a meeting of the Social Partner Committee to address the issue of PAC as well as other issues hindering Belize’s productivity.
Vasquez also said that Bradley was the guest speaker at the BCCI’s annual general meeting earlier this year.
According to Vasquez, Bradley minced no words as she discussed very frankly the challenges facing oversight in the country.
Late last year the social partners made a proposal to government to reconstitute PAC. Their proposal would include the three social partners in PAC but Pro-Tem Chairman John Saldivar made a counter proposal that would see the government retain the majority in the oversight body.
The Prime Minister, in his New Year’s address, had promised to reconstitute the PAC but hasn’t done so yet.
People’s United Party PAC members, including Chairman Julius Espat, have boycotted committee meetings since September 2013.