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Shaw surprises committee with audit on PC banks

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 9:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Opposition spokes-man on Finance Audley Shaw yesterday surprised government members during a meeting of the Public Adminis-tration and Appropriations Committee when he furnished a copy of an audit of the National People's Co-operative Bank (NPCB) and said he intended to discuss it.

However, Shaw later retreated following a chorus of objections from committee members Fitz Jackson and Mikael Phillips.

Shaw had directed a question from the audit to Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, enquiring whether a $180-million loan from the NPCB to a developer to construct 24 town houses fell within the remit of the lending institution.

Government committee member Fitz Jackson sought to stop Shaw in his tracks, raising a point of order.

He said Shaw was asking about matters outside of the remit of the committee.

Shaw continued his questioning of Stanberry, but Jackson would have none of it, saying he wanted a ruling from committee chairman Mike Henry.

Said Henry: "I have ruled that anything to do with the audit should not be part of the questions ... ."

no audit discussions

But Shaw set off sparks in the committee when he said: "You know what I am going to do now, Mr Chairman? This audit is going to be discussed today (yesterday) because I have the audit. So I am going to have it copied and circulated now, so we can discuss it."

In a quick response, Jackson said: "Just in case you don't know as chairman, let the committee be guided by the Standing Orders. It is not Mr Shaw's committee to determine what is discussed here."

Henry insisted that "anything to do with the audit will not be discussed today".

When beleaguered North East St Elizabeth MP Raymond Pryce sought to intervene, Shaw scoffed: "You sit down. You are in enough trouble already."

Shaw said he would distribute copies of the audit to committee members.

Committee member Mikael Phillips, who claimed Shaw "is on a roll", challenged the opposition spokesman on his intent to supply copies of the audit to committee members.

According to Phillips, the ministry was now discussing the audit, and that it would not be appropriate for copies to be distributed to members.

"I don't want a copy of it, I am telling you straight," he said.

He cautioned that any more questions from Shaw on the audit would force him to request a suspension of the committee meeting.

"No meeting will be suspended. It can't be suspended and it will not be suspended," Shaw hit back.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com