No opposition MPs were nominated to the Public Accounts Committee at the opening of the 10thParliament since opposition Members walked out in protest before that part of the proceedings.
The opposition New Democratic Party says that it does not recognise the ruling Unity Labour Party administration as a legitimate government, claiming that it stole the Dec. 9 general elections.
The Leader of the Opposition chairs the Public Accounts Committee, by convention.
The opposition can nominate four members, and the government can nominate five.
From the government side, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves nominated
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar, Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie, Minister of Economic Planning and Sustainable Development Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Transport and Works Sen. Julian Francis, Minister of Health Sen. Luke Browne.
Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan, who is a public servant, will also serve on the Public Accounts Committee.
Prime Minister Gonsalves told Parliament: “At some time in the future, I anticipate that the members of the opposition will name their members of the Public Accounts Committee.”
He noted that the Public Accounts Committee is a constitutional body responsible for the analysis of government revenue and expenditure, and particularly, as reflected in the reports of the Director of Audit and to hear persons from the public service provide explanation for matters which are to be provided, including the Director of Audit, the Director General of Finance and Planning and any permanent secretary or other accounting officers.
“So, it is a very important body, and that body has to send its report to Parliament for consideration,” Gonsalves said.
“Of course, if the opposition chooses not to appoint members and if Parliament does not change the standing orders, we may well find a situation that an important check on the government in respect of revenue and expenditure is not in place, and it is important that it be in place. And that is why when persons play their politics and walk out, important work is left undone, and the people who voted for those who have walked out are short-changed in the process and so, too, the country,” Gonsalves said.