Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Don't give me the credit

Published:Friday | August 24, 2018 | 12:07 AM


While I am flattered by the accolades accorded to me by your columnist, the Rev Devon Dick, in his column appearing in The Gleaner of Thursday, August 23, 2018, I hasten to correct some inaccuracies as I never like to be credited (or blamed) for things I didn't do.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) were not of my making. The PAC has been in existence since Independence (and possibly before that). It is a standard feature of the Westminster parliamentary system, and Jamaica has always followed the Westminster convention of having it chaired by a member of the Opposition. I, myself, as opposition spokesman on finance, chaired the committee from 1989 to 1995.

The PAAC was introduced during Mr Patterson's tenure and was one of the reforms that emanated from the consultations following the 1990 gas riots (recall the Peter Moses-led committee). The thinking was that the

PAC reviews Government's financial operations after the fact. The PAAC was designed to conduct a review of current activity in order to identify breaches at an earlier stage.

What I introduced in 2007 was the practice of having all oversight committees of Parliament (including the PAAC) chaired by a member of the Opposition, just as the PAC has always been.

Also, the office of contractor general, which was established in 1983, was Mr Seaga's idea. As minister of construction at the time, I chaired the joint select committee that prepared the legislation, and I did have much to do with framing the provisions that went into it.

Interestingly, Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad & Tobago are the only two countries that I know of that have included provisions in their constitutions for the PAC. In the case of Trinidad & Tobago, it went further to stipulate that it must be chaired by a member of the Opposition.

Bruce Golding

Former Prime Minister