The Prime Minister’s Office took an official position against the proposed changes to the Public Accounts Committee; however, PAC Chairman Hon. Julius Espat says the reasons are “bogus.”
An official release from the Prime Minister’s office on Wednesday, said that the proposed changes to the PAC would be inconsistent with the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, which require that the ruling government be the majority on all Standing Committees.
The release also said that Cabinet considered the support to the proposed changes by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), but is convinced that the proposal would and render the work of the PAC too expensive and impractical.
The release further said that the current structure of the PAC is suitable to carry out the committee’s work, but has been non-functional because the chairman is “game playing,” and “grandstanding.”
Espat refuted that the addition of the three social partner senators would unbearably raise the cost of operating the PAC because committee members are not paid to be on the committee.
He explained that commuters are given a fuel stipend of $8.00 per mile when they have to travel to Belmopan, which pales in comparison to the price of one of the vehicles purchased by GOB.
Espat also refuted the notion that the current structure of the PAC is adequate, saying that nothing productive has come out of the PAC since 1981, and challenged the PM to show tangible proof if anything has.
He highlighted that he has the support of both the business community and the trade unions, which make up a large percentage of the working population of Belize, in response to the allegations of him, “game playing,” and “grand standing.”
Espat emphasized that he is willing to work with the government and all stakeholders in reforming the PAC, even to the extent of having one of the social partner senators chair the committee. He stressed that reform is the only means of ensuring that the PAC works for the people of Belize.