by Linda Straker
- Humphrey’s spontaneous address described as a scolding to members of Senate
- Senators’ responsibility to study documents and form basis for debate and examination
- Senators’ role is to hold Executive accountable
Chester Humphrey, President of the Upper House of Parliament, believes that members are failing in their duties when they neglect to study, examine, and ask questions from reports and papers that are tabled in Parliament.
“It is very important senators, that these papers and reports that lie on the table, for them to be studied and form the basis for debate and examination,” Humphrey told members during the Wednesday, 5 August sitting.
“Too often these papers are brought here and nothing happens. It is by virtue of the constitution, a responsibility of the house of the Senate especially those who sit on the non-government side, to examine those reports. It is part of your duty,” he said in a spontaneous address which can be described as a scolding to members of the Senate. “These reports are reports and the performance of different government departments, statutory authorities and other businesses which fall under direct control of the State.”
“These are by and large fiscal reports, you have an opportunity to examine the conduct of these businesses, you have an opportunity if you wish by way of a resolution to engage with those who are charged to manage these businesses to explain these accounts,” he told the members, and reminded them that during his tenure as the representative of the Labour Movement he used the reports as the foundation for numerous questions. “Your role is to hold the executive accountable and the constitution says so, it says that the Cabinet is accountable to Parliament and these are essentially reports of the cabinet’s management, not necessarily directly but indirectly, because all of these boards and statutory authorities is by law, they have to report to the Cabinet.”
“In all of the statutory instruments, you will see where at a particular time in the fiscal year cycle, those authorities have to submit a fiscal report and other reports to the minister who must then table them in parliament. This is what all of these documents represents,” he informed the members. “I want to appeal especially to the new senators, do not allow documents to gather dust. It is your responsibility to study the documents. It is your responsibility to formulate questions that you may not be clear on and if necessary you wish to make a recommendation, you can do so by way of a motion brought in your name with sufficiency of notice, and you set out what in fact your motion seeks to do.”
“This is a very important function of the parliament which in recent times is significantly overlooked, and I think senators are failing in their duties and responsibilities to represent their constituents,” said Humphrey, who then read a section of the constitution about the role of Cabinet.
Referring to the constitution and reading Section 59 (3), Humphrey said, “the function of the cabinet shall be to advise the Governor-General in the Government of Grenada and the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible for parliament, for any advice given to the Governor-General by or under the general responsibility of the Cabinet for all things done by under the authority of any minister in the execution of his duties.”
“Therefore, if a statutory authority falls under the purview of the minister, he has that responsibility and an important part of that is the reports which are laid in parliament because it tells you all about the financial going on of these authorities,” he said.
According to the Order Paper, the papers and reports tabled in the House are:
- Financial Statements of the OECS (Regional Tourism Competitiveness (ORTC)) Project for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Report of the Director of Audit, on the Resources Managed for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018 by the Project Coordinating Unit in the Ministry of Finance, Planning, Economic Development and Physical Development, for the Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (RDVRP).
- Report of the Director of Audit, on the Performance of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- The Annual Report of the Grenada Bureau of Standards for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Annual Report of Grenada Authority for the Regulation of Financial Institutions (GARFIN) for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Annual report and Report of the Director of Audit on the Financial Statements of the Grenada Food and Nutrition Council for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Report of the Director of Audit, on the Financial Statements of the Office of the Ombudsman for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Annual Report, Financial Statements and Audit Report thereon of Grenada Ports Authority for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Grenada Solid Waste Management Authority Annual Report 2018.
- Financial Intelligence Unit Annual Report 2016-2018.
- Grenada Airports Authority Annual Report 2016.
- Fiscal Responsibility Oversight Committee 2019 Annual Report.
- Report of the Director of Audit Grenada on the Resources managed for the period 21 July 2017 to 31 December, 2018by the Project Accounting Unit in the Ministry of Finance for the OECS Regional Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AGRICOM) and the income and expenditure for the accounting period ending 31 December 2018.
- Report of the Director of Audit, Grenada on the Financial Statements of the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) for the year ended 31 December 2018.
- Addendum to the Report of the Director of Audit on the Public Accounts of Grenada for the year ended 31 December 2015.
All documents tabled in the Houses of Parliament are public documents.
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