PAC debate continues

By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter

The Auditor General will soon be submitting new reports for the Public Accounts Committee to review but PAC still isn’t functioning efficiently, according to AG Dorothy Bradley.

Bradley told The Reporter that she is also still waiting to meet with Pro-tem Chairman John Saldivar who had promised that PAC would meet with her office following the conclusion of PAC hearings in February.

Bradley, who recently told The Reporter that her office is in the process of auditing the 2011-2012 financial statements submitted to her by the Accountant General, has said on numerous occasions that PAC is the body her office should primarily report to but PAC’s flawed composition has isolated the AG’s office from the significant oversight body.

Senator representing the private sector Mark Lizarraga, citing a Caribbean Court of Justice ruling handed down last August, said that prime ministerial governance, and scarcity of checks and balances to restrain an overweening Executive is what is eats away at our democracy.

Lizarraga pointed out that there are blatant flaws in the system of accountability in Belize and the majority of members who sit on PAC and in the Senate are also members of the Executive branch of government.

“How can you expect them to objectively criticize and scrutinize their own policies? How can you realistically expect them to police themselves?”Lizarraga queried.
He added that this type of system allows the government to be effectively free of accountability to anyone.

Lizarraga said that the business community, which he represents supported the recommendation by civil society late last year to include the social partners in PAC but the government’s counter-proposal, which would ensure that government retained the majority was not acceptable. Signing into law the amendments to the constitution, and the prime minister’s 13th senator would be a great start Lizarraga said.

Julius Espat, PAC chairman told The Reporter that the issues with the committee are the roots of many of the challenges in Belize.

Espat said that this government has shown zero respect for accountability and said there needs to be consistent pressure on government to bring about the changes that PAC needs.
People’s United Party members of PAC have boycotted the commission’s meetings since September 2013 and have called it a charade.

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