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PNP attempts to circumvent the Parliamentary process by holding illegal PAC meeting, says JLP

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is accusing the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) of circumventing the Parliamentary process by holding an “illegal” Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting this morning.

The accusation by the JLP follows this morning's shut down of a meeting with senior officials of Petrojam and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica after Parliamentary staff were ordered to withdraw their services.

The staff, including Hansard recorders, withdrew following the receipt of a memorandum from House Leader Karl Samuda which stated that they should immediately discontinue services because the sitting was convened without the agreement of a majority of members.

The JLP argued that the actions of the PNP today, “have shown complete disrespect for established norms and the Standing Orders of the Parliament”, adding that “this attempt to circumvent the process by an 'illegal' PAC meeting is at minimum contemptuous of our Parliament and the very democratic process and is unacceptable by any standard”.

At the same time, the JLP reiterated that it is completely supportive of all processes of accountability and transparency, both generally and with specific reference to the Auditor General's Report regarding Petrojam operations spanning the period 2013 to 2018.

It also noted that the established process through the Standing Orders of the Parliament provides 30 days for entities summoned by the PAC, and it is furthermore the case that the agenda for such meetings must be agreed by a majority of the membership of the Committee.

“The opposition and PNP leader yesterday at a press conference publicly stated the need for the PAC to review the Petrojam issue by the middle of January, which interestingly enough came subsequent to the calls being made by the Central Executive of the Jamaica Labour Party for this meeting to be held as soon as reasonably practical.

“This public call also came after an agreement was arrived at with the Leader of Government Business, Hon Karl Samuda, for the standing orders to be waived and the meeting to be held,” the JLP said in a statement.

It said the Government members of the PAC have been looking at all possible scheduling options while working assiduously to prepare for the meeting by reviewing the extensive Auditor General Report along with other audits previously conducted.

It added that the Government members had conceded that the meeting be held next week during time previously scheduled for the Joint Select Committee for the BOJ Act to be deliberated.

“For Opposition members to convene a meeting without following procedure in these circumstances are unacceptable. It would also provide insufficient time for a proper review and deliberation to be undertaken,” the JLP contended.

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