Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill said accounting officers need to be more accountable when answering questions about the public purse.
Minister Edghill made the comments as he supported the ‘adoption of the report of the Public Accounts Committee on its examinations of the public accounts of Guyana for the year 2015.’ The Motion was moved by Opposition Member of Parliament, Jermaine Figueira.
Minister Edghill said in 2015, public officers attending the Public Accounts Committee were “ill-equipped, ill-prepared or unwilling to answer questions that were put to them.” He pointed out that even the Members of the then government were appalled by some of the answers given by those officers.
“Accounting officers who receive their authority to expend government resources once appropriated in this house, must be aware that the public accounts committee is not a joke. It is a place where they work out their accountability and answer to the people of Guyana,” the minister stated.
The public works minister said the report presented to the National Assembly also highlights the need for better project management.
“We have to strengthen the supervision of projects… collectively we have to strengthen the mechanisms. Overpayments continue to be a major issue which are documented in this report and overpayments mean that people were paid beyond works that were measured. It means that engineers, project officers, accounting officers who ultimately sign off on these documents have to be more careful.”
Minister Edghill proposed that there be more training especially with accounting officers on the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act. The minister said the goal is to ensure that wherever monies are directed, that there are persons who can manage the resources adequately to ensure citizens get value for money.
Additionally, M.P Figueira also moved the motion on the ‘Outstanding work of the Public Accounts Committee of the Eleventh Parliament.’
Minister Edghill told the National Assembly that the incomplete works in the Eleventh Parliament were not due to the unwillingness of the committee, but rather the successful passage of the No Confidence motion in 2018. He said he hopes the work will continue in the Twelfth Parliament.