Government minister, Hon. Dr Natalio D. Wheatley is cautioning the opposition-led Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about using its powers for witch-hunting and personal vendettas against persons they have ran against in the 2019 general elections.
The Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture and Representative of the Seventh District was at the time speaking during the debate of the Motion to have Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, Sixth District Representative appointed a member of PAC to represent the government.
“I know my Hon. colleague will trumpet that message that we cannot use such committees for personal vendettas and to try to victimize persons, for instance who we ran against in the elections and things like that,” he said during the House of Assembly yesterday, February 27.
He added, “It (PAC) has a very important function and we have to ensure that it sticks to that function. And I am confident that Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines has the integrity and she have the purest of intention to ensure that be the case.”
Hon. Marlon Penn, Opposition Leader and Representative for the Eight District, who is also the Chairman of PAC quickly sought to shut down the comments made by Wheatley.
“…It is important that the integrity of the committee remains intact…The assertion that the committee is being used, one Member said to attack or to go after persons who might run,” he said, but Hon. Wheatley interjected.
“I made no assertion that the committee is made to attack anyone. I said it is an important committee and we have to defend against it so it does not happen. I didn’t say it is already happening…that we don’t have witch-hunts and political victimization,” Minister Wheatley clarified.
The Opposition Leader said the Minister inferred that PAC is being used to carry out witch-hunts.
He told the House that since the committee commenced its meetings, members have gone through a manual which will be used as a guideline to probe projects and ensure government is accountable.
“We have had meetings with the Attorney General; the internal audit to look at the projects and to discuss amongst ourselves the entire body, the approach we are going to take in assessing government spending whether it’s the present government or past government,” he explained.
Penn said that it is important that he dismisses such assertions.
“So, I want to dispel the inference or notion that somehow this committee under my chairmanship would be used for any witch-hunt,” he assured.
The motion was passed to allow Hon. Maduro-Caines to sit on the committee.
At a press conference in January, Penn told reporters that the committee is set to begin its first set of meetings in February where it will probe government spending, including $2M on the 2019 Emancipation Festival.
He also mentioned controversial projects under the former National Democratic Party (NDP) administration which he was part of, including the Elmore Stoutt High School Wall Project and BVI Airways deal.