THE Public Accounts Committee has new powers – and Opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis is determined to use them.
Back in 2015, then House Speaker Dr Kendal Major ruled that the PAC could only examine documents that had been tabled in Parliament and could only send for persons, papers or records if a parliamentary resolution permits it to do so.
Mr Davis didn’t speak up then, back when he was Deputy Prime Minister under the PLP administration, but now he’s keen as can be to use the powers.
For what it’s worth, we think Halson Moultrie is right to overturn the previous ruling that left the PAC hamstrung and unable to carry out the free-roaming examination of government that it should be able to do. Now it’s a matter of seeing how Mr Davis will use it.
If there are areas of waste, of inappropriate spending, even of corruption, then absolutely it should be exposed.
We hope it is used that way and not used in the run-up to the election to cast aspersions on individuals without significant evidence. There is no indication so far that it will be used that way – and nor do we wish to see any hint that it shall.
As for Mr Davis, he said that the PLP had been “waiting on that ruling for quite a while” despite an absence of protest when it was first made.
Equally, under the PLP, party members rarely seemed to show up for PAC hearings when they were chaired by the then Opposition FNM.
It would be nice to think that both sides of the political aisle could respect the importance of the PAC, and the necessity to ensure meetings are held regularly and business conducted in an orderly manner.
It shouldn’t be the case that the party in power diminishes the importance of the PAC only to rediscover how useful it is when in Opposition.
The PAC is a tool which, used the right way, can make our government better, calling it to account when necessary.
If there are deals which need to be probed, or departments not running as they should, it is important that the Bahamian people has a way in which those can be investigated.
The PAC can do that – and now that it has its powers restored, we hope it will.
Signs of hope
Those paying attention to the daily COVID-19 statistics will have seen the numbers of new cases in Grand Bahama dropping away.
Now, the island is getting the rewards for residents doing all they can to minimise the transmission of the virus, with restrictions being eased.
It seems such a far away time now when there was the prospect of sitting in restaurants with friends, but Grand Bahama is a step closer to that again now.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis suggested a relaxation of the curfew is imminent – and the Balearia ferry is expected to resume services to Freeport today.
For those of us in New Providence, it is a good sign too – as changes in Grand Bahama have tended to follow here, for good or for ill. We too, if things keep improving, might see a further easing of restrictions.
And one more piece of good news – this time further afield. US President Joe Biden yesterday announced the purchase of enough vaccine to treat every American. That’s 300 million doses, and there is the prospect of every US citizen being vaccinated by the summer.
If we can open our tourism more to people who have had their vaccinations, it gives our economy the chance to bounce back perhaps a little sooner than anticipated.
Dr Minnis was optimistic too, saying that “once we come out of the post COVID era, the economy will start to boom”.
And that, for those of us able to gather in restaurants when it is safe to do so, will be something to raise a glass to indeed.