Photo: Prime Minister Harris said that the Public Accounts Committee Bill is a "historic bill in the context of St. Kitts and Nevis".
Harris calls Public Accounts Committee Bill ‘historic’
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Public Accounts Committee Bill, which had its second reading at the sitting of Parliament today has been described as historic for the federation by the prime minister and minister of finance, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris.
“This bill is a historic bill in the context of St. Kitts and Nevis and the bill seeks to bring into being and to set the new legal framework for the functioning of a proper Public Accounts Committee,” said Harris, adding that the committee has not once functioned properly since its inception. “The bill that is before this Honourable House today provides the basis for the work of the Public Accounts Committee and it clarifies its mandate so as to ensure that there is no conflict with the constitutional mandate of the legislative auditor/the director of audit.”
The finance minister said that his administration is working assiduously to ensure that there is not a repeat of such going forward, as his government is simply “consecrating the future of accountability in St. Kitts and Nevis” with respect to the Public Accounts Committee Bill.
“What we are attempting to do now is exactly what we promised we will do in the lead up to the general elections in 2015,” he said. “What we are doing is fulfilling a promise made to the good people of St. Kitts and Nevis that we will empower the Public Accounts Committee for the first time in modern St. Kitts and Nevis.
“This then is a landmark intervention in the legislature, which the Team Unity administration takes pride in being the first to do …and we are doing that which we promised, give the public accounts committee an opportunity to work and to add to the public accountability and transparency. We have come now to do what is needed and to ensure that the Public Accounts Committee can act as a watchdog to the Parliament providing oversight on public expenditure.”
Harris spoke to the constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis and noted that it “provides for the public office of the director of audit and duly embodies and empowers that person with responsibility for auditing of the public accounts.”
The Public Accounts Committee Bill, which had its first reading on July 11, is strongly supported by His Excellency Sir Tapley Seaton, governor-general of St. Kitts and Nevis.