30 September 2021
A General Election will be held on Wednesday, 13 October 2021.This year’s Election will be historic – the first under a ministerial system of Government.
Over the past few weeks we have provided regular information articles on how a Ministerial Government will work. In our final article this week we focus on the role of the Public Accounts Committee and Select (Scrutiny) Committees.
If you have any questions on this or previous articles please send them to the SHG Press Office via: Kerisha.Yon@sainthelena.gov.sh or on tel: 22368.
What is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)?
The PACwas established under section 69 of the Constitution.
The PAC reports to Legislative Council. It must examine the annual statement of accounts of the Government of St Helena as audited by the Chief Auditor. It also considers such management letters and reports of the Chief Auditor as laid before Legislative Council or brought to the attention of the Council by the Chief Auditor. The Committee can also carry out other functions prescribed in law.
The Public Accounts Committee pursuant to the Constitution is independent and not subject to direction or control by any other person or body. Its functions, composition (including both Elected Members and non-Elected Members as detailed below) enhance the political accountability of Government.
In carrying out is functions the Committee scrutinises how the Government and other public bodies spend money, it helps ensure good standards of fiscal management and accountability. It also considers compliance with relevant Ordinances and financial reporting standards.
The PAC has power, subject to other laws, to summon individuals before it and to require answers to questions.
Formal meetings of the PAC are guided by Standing Orders and the Public Accounts Committee (Procedure) Ordinance 2019.
Will the PAC still operate under a ministerial government?
Yes. The PAC will operate under a ministerial government as it does in the current system.
What is the membership of the PAC?
Legislative Council will appoint three Legislators (non-Ministers) to the PAC and the Governor, in consultation with Legislative Council, appoints two independent members of the public, one of whom must be the Chairperson.
Pursuant to the Constitution the Chief Auditor acts as Adviser to the PAC.
How often does the PAC meet?
The PAC meets informally at least once a month and formal meetings of the PAC are held at least four times in a year.
What are Select (Scrutiny) Committees?
Under the Constitution amendment the authority to create scrutiny committees was established. Following legal discussions with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office they are formally described in the Constitution as Select Committees.
Part of the remit of the seven Elected Members of Legislative Council who are not Ministers will be to examine and scrutinise the performance of sectors of government through Select Committees. This will include scrutinising the decision making of Ministers and contribute to ensuring the effective use of public funds. At least two Select Committees will be set up and the Non-Ministers will be members of these committees. A working title for the two committees are Select Committee 1 and 2. The names may be amended in due course.
The Non-Ministers will decide amongst themselves within the Legislative Council the Select Committee on which each will serve. A Legislator would only be on one Select Committee. The Governor, on receipt of the names of the Legislators to be on each Select Committee from the Clerk to the Legislative Council, would issue a letter of appointment to each member.
Select Committees will meet on a regular basis.
These Information Releases are available online at: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/legislative-council/general-election-2021/
30 September 2021