The motion to reconfigure the Public Accounts Committee was struck down in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Dean Hon. Barrow pointed out several procedural errors. However, PAC chairman, Hon. Julius Espat, says he will not give up.
PM Barrow described the motion as “hopelessly incomplete” emphasizing that Espat had drafted a motion to amend the Standing Orders of the House without an accompanying draft of which specific orders would be amended.
Barrow went on to say that Espat attempted to invoke the wrong Standing Order when he cited order 25, because its is order 89 that deals with amending Standing Orders. The PM also pointed out that under Order 89 proposed amendments are to be filed within a minimum of eight days prior to the next House meeting.
Barrow concluded by saying that the substantive motive behind the motion also flies in the face of democracy, because under the Standing Orders the structure of the standing committees should reflect the balance of power within the House of Representatives.
In response, Espat explained that the motion he filed was a proposal to form a joint PAC including members of the Senate, and not to amend the Standing Orders.
He emphasized that he remains undeterred in trying to reconfigure the PAC, which he says has been non-functional since Belize’s independence. He also said that he will make as many amendments to his motions as are necessary to gain the approval of the House, and will work with any member of the government as a sign of his commitment to change.
Espat drew examples from India, Australia, and Trinidad to bolster his point that there are committees which have the type of membership that he envisions, and that the Prime Ministers’ response portrays unwillingness to give Belizeans true transparency and accountability.
Under the joint PAC, there would be two members from the government, two from the opposition one of which would be the Chairman, and three members from the Senate, representing the Unions, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and the Churches.