McTaggart heads up Public Accounts Committee

Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Leader of the Opposition Roy McTaggart has been named chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

On Friday, the former finance minister was nominated to lead the committee, which is tasked with scrutinising reports by the Office of the Auditor General, after Premier Wayne Panton upheld parliamentary tradition allowing the George Town East MP to take up the role.

Last term, the PAC was led by North Side MP Ezzard Miller, who lost his re-election bid in this year’s poll to Jay Ebanks.

On Friday, Panton and his PACT team got down to business, calling their first sitting of Parliament.

The government members, many of whom were clad in matching blue clothing – Panton’s colour theme over the campaign – commenced their legislative agenda with the appointment of key standing committees.

A formal notice of the meeting was not shared with the media; instead a post from West Bay Central MP Katherine Ebanks-Wilks alerted the public to the first sitting of the new government members.

Noticeably absent from the sitting was former Premier Alden McLaughlin and former Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell. House Speaker McKeeva Bush, at the start of the sitting, said he had apologies from McLaughlin, the Red Bay MP.

The first committee up for nomination Friday morning was the Public Accounts Committee.

Panton nominated East End MP Isaac Rankine, West Bay Central MP Katherine Ebanks-Wilks and Savannah MP Heather Bodden from the government benches to be on the PAC.

Opposition and Progressives leader McTaggart; George Town South MP Barbara Conolly, another previous PAC member; and Bodden Town East MP Dwayne Seymour were nominated by George Town North MP Joey Hew from the Opposition bench.

Seymour was not in the chamber at the time, but Hew said the MP had accepted the nomination.

Panton pointed out that it was tradition that the chairman of PAC goes to the Opposition leader and he would uphold that.

McTaggart was affirmed to lead the committee. It is a seat he is familiar with. Back in 2013, he lead the PAC, which is the key check and balance over government expenditures, reviewing reports from the Office of the Auditor General Office and making recommendations.

However, his tenure at the helm was not without controversy, as Bush, premier at the time, protested his leadership of the committee after McTaggart, then a C4C member, switched sides to join the Progressives-led government, which changed the composition of the committee.

On Friday, lawmakers also nominated members for the Standing Business Committee, which will be chaired by Panton. The committee will also include Deputy Premier Chris Saunders, George Town Central MP Kenneth Bryan, West Bay South MP André Ebanks, McTaggart and McLaughlin.

McTaggart initially nominated Hew for the committee, but later withdrew his name as only six members are allowed.

Panton and Saunders were nominated as chairman and deputy chair, respectively, of the Standing Privileges Committee, which comprises all members of the House.

Bush ordered that the premier’s inaugural speech, delivered at the swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday, be attached to the Hansard for the record. He also informed members that the annual parliamentarians prayer breakfast was set for 5 May, before adjourning the meeting.

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