PAC gives scope for debate

Wednesday March 23, 2016 Written by Published in Politics
Aitutaki MP and new leader of the opposition, Teina Bishop pictured at the PAC workshop in Parliament. 16032121 Aitutaki MP and new leader of the opposition, Teina Bishop pictured at the PAC workshop in Parliament. 16032121

There is plenty of scope for Members of Parliament to come up with a debate to improve the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), says clerk of parliament John Tangi.

 

His comment comes after most Members of Parliament raised questions on other Pacific nations’ PACs at a workshop programme in Parliament conducted by the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions. (PASAI)

Murienua MP James Beer was particularly interested in the Solomon Islands PAC. In the Solomon Islands, parliament cannot debate the appropriation bills until it receives the PAC report.

“It is interesting as far as parliament is concerned; it would be good to know how it is functioning for them,” Beer said.

Beer said PAC’s role was to make sure independent reports were presented to parliament. How to go about achieving that was important so that there were no conflicts of interest. If there were conflicts, the report would hold no weight at all, he said.

Beer added that it was important that PAC maintained transparency and independence..

Agriculture Minister Kiriau Turepu said he was interested in the composition of the Public Accounts Committee.

“I have raised this question a lot as why a cabinet minister isn’t included in the committee, because they are more informed of the funding and organization of their ministries.

“There are issues and we must ask ourselves now, which way are we going. This is one issue we should look at carefully - the composition of PAC,” Turepu said.

Parliament clerk John Tangi said MPs would certainly be interested in a debate to come up with some ideas for improving the committee.

“Let us not just focus on the next budget or the next sitting of parliament but rather let us to look at the totality of the functions and duties of the PAC. Certainly (hearing about) the experiences of our sister parliament in the Pacific would help us here in the Cook Islands.

Tangi said that in certain Pacific Islands nations some committees were chaired by the opposition and some are chaired by government.

“But in our case it is the government and that is for the simple reason that it is government who commands the majority in Parliament and it is government who is responsible for ensuring that the delivery of services required of the budget is appropriated to the line ministries.”  

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