Member of Parliament (MP) for East Rural St Andrew, Juliet Holness, shared harsh words for the Chairman
of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Julian Robinson on Tuesday (February 2).
Holness accused Robinson of “concerting” with the media to paint government members of the committee in a negative light.
According to a clearly upset Holness, she was shocked when she read in the media that government members did not support a request to invite internal auditors from the Labour Ministry to a meeting of the PAC.
Holness explained that while she had received the email in which the request was made to have the auditors invited, she was unable to respond in the prescribed time.
“Chairman, I actually don’t have an issue in terms of us varying from the standing orders, but I am terribly upset. When I finally saw that e-mail, it was sent the day before and requiring that you answer by the following day at 4:00 p.m. When I tried to answer, my message was only going to Mr Guy,” began Holness as she began to express her disappointment.
“I got here the morning for CDF meeting at 9:00 a.m. and communicated to you and to the secretary when she came afterwards for PAC that I wasn’t able to respond to the email. I was flabbergasted when I got out of PAC Chairman, and realised that the media called you and you rudely indicated that we have an objection to inviting the internal auditors. I was shocked. And I was very disappointed, because it means I can’t trust you as a chairman,” added Holness.
Holness went on to threaten that if such an incident should re-occur, she would be insisting that such decisions only be taken during meetings of the committee which is what is prescribed by the standing orders.
“We cannot trust you, Mr. Chairman, if you ever do it again, because nothing prevents you, Mr. Chairman, when you realise you have that email from calling your fellow member of the committee, however, none of us received the call,” said Holness
“None of us were asked how comes you haven’t responded, but you had time to go to the media. So when I saw it, Mr. Chairman, I’m sorry, I didn’t see it on the day, I was pissed,” she added.
Robinson responded to Holness noting that he was in “strong objection” to her statement, admitting that he was the one who asked that the email be sent out noting that only two members Guy and Cousins had responded.
The chairman had earlier explained addressed the issue when a similar sentiment was expressed by another PAC member.
“Let me explain the context …The day before the meeting, I indicated to the committee clerk, that I wanted her to invite the ministers rep on the Internal Audit Committee. And also, it is not the chief internal auditor, but another person. At that point in time, she indicated that she couldn’t issue the invitation without the permission of the members of the committee. Now, because of that, she said, the only way they could be invited is if she got all the members to agree to such a proposal,” began Robinson as he sought to explain.
“I would tell you, frankly, I thought the committee clerk on her own could have invited the two persons, because there are members of the of the civil service, but she indicated the rules dictate that the majority of the members must agree and, and for obvious reasons, which I think are apparent now, I didn’t want to proceed in the meeting, given that there were so many issues raised about the internal audit, without those two in key individuals there, which is why the last meeting, I ask for the permission of the members to have the persons come. And in essence, that’s why we put off last week’s meeting,” added Robinson.
Robinson went on to explain that he has no control over what the media reports.
“I don’t control what the media reports in it. I don’t control what the media reports on I take offence to any suggestion that I tell the media what to report,” said Robinson.
“I don’t tell the media what to report. So when I’m told that I’m conspiring with the media, I take strong offence to that,” he added.