The Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South and Vice Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, has said the PAC wields strong moral authority.

According to him, even though the PAC has no teeth to bite because it does not have the powers to enforce compliance or prosecute, “by the moral strength of this committee, monies have been raked in before even the sitting commences because of the issues raised in the Auditor-General’s report that need to be addressed, and I think that is a very strong moral authority we wield.

“We have been bashed a lot by the public that we don’t have any teeth to bite.

Mr Atta Akyea said this while addressing a 10-member delegation from the National Assembly of The Gambia that visited the country to share experiences with their Ghanaian counterparts on Wednesday last week.

Explaining the work of the PAC to the visiting Gambian MPs, he said as a result of the hue and cry of the public, the committee had made several suggestions, including the establishment of a sub-committee “to monitor all the resolutions passed by Parliament and see whether relating to the issues of account, those resolutions have been complied with”.

He, however, said that through the work of the PAC, some monies which were otherwise lost were paid before sittings.

“Some people have been arguing that what if the resolutions point to criminal prosecution. It is the Attorney General that has the power to prosecute. We as a committee will just start the process by drawing attention to the whole country, including the President, that this might be a situation of prosecution or this might be a situation that somebody must be sued in the name of the state and then if they are willing to do so, that is good for the country,” he stressed.

Mr Atta Akyea said if the state was not willing to take action, it could enquire from officers on the floor of the House why the resolutions of Parliament had not been carried out.

He said the PAC also had some challenges in getting the public to understand their role, “because expectations on us, first of all, have no Constitutional support, as if we interrogate and we end it. What else can we do? We don’t have executive powers to push some of these matters but we can only wake up the conscience of officers who are involved, by whatever is permitted under our Standing Orders, to wake them up to their responsibilities,” he stated.

The leader of The Gambia’s delegation, Mrs Fatou Mbye, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of The Gambia, disagreed with the tag on the PAC as toothless. “For us that is where we differ,” she stated.

She added that the powers of The Gambia’s Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee (PAPEC) were that of a high court judge “and that is where it stops”.

Nonetheless, Mrs Mbye stated that the PAPEC was mandated by the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, specifically in sections 102 and 109, to enquire into the activities of government, ministries, departments and agencies and their considerations may either lead to legislation, policy formulation or prosecution.

She said usually, any case of corruption was prosecuted because of a task force that had been set up by the President, after the end of proceeding of the PAPEC, adding, “As we speak, right now some people are going to court because of recommendations made by the PAPEC.”

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Source: Graphic

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