Speaker still working on convening committees – Parliamentary Clerk

Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir

Following criticisms and even threats of legal action over the non-summoning of parliamentary committees, Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs said that the Speaker of the National Assembly is working on convening these committees.
In a brief interview with this publication, Isaacs noted that he has had discussions with Speaker of the National Assembly Manzoor Nadir and work is ongoing. However, he deferred responsibility for convening the committees to the Speaker.
“It’s a matter for the speaker of the National Assembly. Strictly. The Speaker is responsible for convening the first meeting of a committees to elect the Chairperson. I know he’s planning. He discussed the convening of these meetings with me… the schedules,” Isaacs said.
In a previous interview with this publication, Nadir had pointed out that as per the process outlined in the Standing Orders, the Chairperson, after being appointed at the first meeting, must consult with the Clerk of the National Assembly so that further meetings can be convened.

Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs

“The process is that the first meeting of the committee have to be convened to elect a Chairperson. And after that, the Chairperson, in consultation with the clerk and the members, will convene the meeting,” Nadir had said.
It was only last week that Alliance For Change (AFC) Executive David Patterson had threatened that legal action would be taken by his party if the Parliamentary Committees such as the Public Accounts Committee he is expected to Chair, are not convened.
“The failure…to convene these committees after four months, for the necessary oversight as prescribed by the laws and Constitution to be done, is an outrage. COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse because on a daily basis the Parliament Office is arranging participation in different international fora by Zoom,” Patterson had said, while pointing out that the PAC last met in 2018… a fact likely caused by his former Government’s year-long delay to call elections after losing the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018.
On Thursday, Auditor General Deodat Sharma handed over the completed report for the fiscal year 2019 to the Speaker, at the Public Buildings… a report that will have to be examined by the PAC. Sharma had said the audit was conducted under extreme circumstances due to COVID-19, which would cause some delay and reduction of the scope of the audit conducted.
The pandemic had brought on the challenges of travelling to remote locations and having a full staff complement. Nevertheless, transparency and public accountability were at the helm of these efforts, in promoting good governance.
“There were limitations in the scope of the audits conducted at Ministries and Departments due to minimal staff on duty, the need to prioritise their restricted hours of work and limited physical interactions as mandated by the stipulated COVID-19 protocols,” Sharma said.
He had noted that four performance audits were delayed due to the pandemic, but will be completed in 2021. However, three special investigations were finalised during October 2019, including the Public Health Drug Bond, Leguan Stelling Rehabilitation while another three are at various stages.