The Leader of the Opposition, Baldwin Spencer, is recommending that the Public Accounts Committee be amended and allocated more constitutional power to protect taxpayer’s money.
“I think there is an inherent weakness in the whole constitutional arrangement, and I think the time has come; in fact, it can be said that it’s long overdue, to give that body clear width in what it’s required to do,” Spencer said.
The St John’s Rural West MP, who chaired the body before he served as prime minister, has now been re-instated as chairman. Parliamentarians have been waiting since 2014 for the appointees to be announced.
Spencer highlighted the need for a Public Accounts Act to maintain checks and balances, accountability and transparency, which, he said, are the people’s inherent rights.
Referencing the Public Accounts Committee, he stated, “Not only in Antigua, but in other jurisdictions there appears to be some weakness in this area, we need to close it.”
The members of the Public Accounts Committee were announced, in Parliament on Monday. The five-member body consists of MP for All Saints East & St Luke, Joanne Massiah; MP for St Paul, EP Chet Greene; MP for All Saints West; Michael Browne and MP for Barbuda Arthur Nibbs, along with the chairman.
Spencer said the law should be overhauled in a timely manner, enabling his committee to accurately audit the government’s expenditure and ensure the public’s funds are properly spent.
The establishment of such a body is a requirement, stipulated in Section 98 of the Antigua & Barbuda Constitution, which grants it authority to examine the public accounts as submitted by the director of audits.