(CNS): The chair of the Public Accounts Committee has issued a warning to senior public servants in core government as well as its statutory authorities and government companies that when they are asked to attend PAC as witnesses, this is not a frivolous invitation that they can ignore. When the committee met last week, Ezzard Miller noted that despite efforts to change times and dates for some witnesses to accommodate their schedules, some were still failing to attend or sending last minute excuses.
Miller said the committee would issue summons to witnesses “if they keep trying to make excuses”, adding that a summons issued by PAC was equal to a court summons.
Following the failure of Phillip Rankin, the chair of Cayman Airways, to attend Thursday’s meeting, even after the times had been rearranged to accommodate him, Miller issued a summons for his attendance next week.
“The PAC in its role as oversight for government expenditure cannot tolerate disrespect for invitations,” he said. “People consider it trivial … but it is not helpful to start out with an adversarial position.”
Miller suggested PAC was getting too nice and accommodating, leading civil servants to not take the request to attend seriously. But the oversight role of PAC was “a serious one”, he stressed, as he encouraged witnesses to make every effort to accept an invitation and to attend after first the request. He said the PAC and civil servants needed to work together to improve the management and functioning of government.
He asked Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson to “inform the powers that be in government” to communicate the message across the public sector to accommodate PAC invitations and impress upon them the importance of coming and answering questions. Jefferson said he would make it clear, via the deputy governor’s office, to all civil servants that they should attend on time, the first time, and that the chair’s comments would be taken seriously.
Rankin, having been asked to attend twice, had still not confirmed his attendance, so a summons was issued to ask him to come Wednesday next week.