PM gives speaker a week to probe PAC sitting debacle
Prime Minister Andrew Holness gave Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles one week to carry out a probe into the controversy surrounding the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, allegedly in breach of the Standing Orders - the rules of Parliament.
The probe is also expected to explore claims that the PAC was properly convened. Charles will also place the searchlight on allegations that Leader of Government Business, Karl Samuda, instructed the clerk to the Houses of Parliament to withdraw her staff from the proceedings.
During the sitting of the House yesterday, tempers flared over the issue, which drew vehement denials from the Opposition that the committee sat illegally.
In his intervention, Holness reasoned that "we do not want to show the nation that we do not have the ability to resolve the issues that affect the nation. In this particular matter, there seems to be a misunderstanding as to the calling of a committee meeting, but it does show a worrying sign for me that we have to pay, not just closer attention, but respect for the rules of the House."
The prime minister noted that he was advised that members of the civil service were not called to the meeting in line with the established protocols. "We need to check that," he said.
He urged Charles to "investigate this matter thoroughly and have a report tabled in Parliament for the next sitting."
Holness said the speaker could establish a parliamentary committee or seek independent assistance to investigate the issue. "We cannot have a failure in the operations of Parliament," he charged.