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Fed Up Chipman Loses Patience

Reece Chipman, MP for Centreville. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Reece Chipman, MP for Centreville. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

CENTREVILLE MP Reece Chipman resigned from the Public Accounts Committee yesterday out of frustration with the immobility of the traditionally powerful parliamentary sub-committee.

The PAC, which examines public finances, has done little of consequence this term.

The Minnis administration has refused its requests for information, having interpreted a 2015 ruling from former House Speaker Dr Kendal Major as barring the committee from reviewing anything not brought to the House of Assembly by the auditor general.

Mr Chipman sought to table his PAC resignation letter in the House of Assembly yesterday, but Speaker Halson Moultrie denied him, saying he did not give notice of his intention to table the document beforehand as protocol requires.

In the letter later sent to the media, Mr Chipman said: “The Public Accounts Committee is one of the most prestigious committees in the Commonwealth parliamentary system. As a matter of fact, Westminster acknowledges it as the most important committee of the House of Assembly. In addition to its constitutional functions, Parliament maintains oversight of government’s financial matters through the Public Accounts Committee.”

He also noted: “Public Accounts Committee can only review reports laid before the House, most of which are substantially behind and irrelevant at this time. The only relevance is the political ping-pong which the next generation of Bahamians can care less about. The Bahamian people want clarity on, how much money we have? How much do we need and what are we spending it on?”

Speaker Moultrie, in an interview with The Tribune yesterday, said Mr Chipman’s letter highlighted several grievances that have nothing to do with the PAC.

The letter captures Mr Chipman's frustration with Parliament’s failure to move motions to establish select committees on several issues he has raised. Last April he said he would move a motion calling for separate committees to investigate "fake news" and natural resources.

He wrote in the letter: “The select committees on the natural resources and sovereign wealth fund and fake news (are) still on the agenda for almost a year. Once again the Westminster system allows for democracy and freedom of speech and rights of privilege.”

In response, Speaker Moultrie told The Tribune: “Once you give notice of your intention to move for the appointment of a select committee, whenever I go through the order of business, I ask for the appointment of select committees. He is supposed to get up at that time and move for his select committee, state the reasons for it, start the debate on it, have someone second it and if no one wants to second it, put it to a vote. If you read his letter you get the impression that for one year he’s been trying to get this committee and he was not permitted to do so, which is not accurate.

“I explained to him before we went into the summer recess, I asked if he was ready, he indicated to me at that time that he wasn’t ready and I said okay, your matter is already on the agenda, as soon as we reconvene after the summer you can bring your matter. But he just never brought it.”

Mr Chipman also complained that Parliament has yet to facilitate a question-and-answer period as rules allow. Additionally, he complained that House rules are not settled because there are multiple rule books in rotation.

He said: “Therefore, Mr Speaker, in light of the above, as well as the absence of a House approved terms of reference for the Public Accounts Committee and the fact that the member for Killarney and the prime minister of the Bahamas has publicly called the Public Accounts Committee functionless, I hereby submit my resignation effective immediately.”

For his part, Mr Moultrie has yet to say whether he agrees with his predecessor's ruling on the powers of the PAC or accepts the Minnis administration’s interpretation of it.

He said he cannot rule on the matter because PAC Chairman, Cat Island, San Salvador and Rum Cay MP Philip “Brave” Davis, has not officially raised the matter in the House of Assembly.

“As I explained to the chairman of the PAC, I cannot as the presiding officer just appeal a ruling,” he said. “Someone has to make an application to me, stating the grounds upon which I should act to revise the decision and perhaps overturn it.”

The Official Opposition has made little effort to get him to resolve the matter in their favour, Mr Moultrie admitted.

“It is their Speaker that made the ruling,” he said, “and I think the difficulty that they are having is that if they make an application and set out the particular grounds, they will feel they are undermining their own Speaker.”

Comments

TheMadHatter 1 year ago

Wow. Ive been asking where our money is going for years. If an MP can't find out, then i have no hope.

Keep paying your taxes and fees my brethren, and keep praying every day to God and know that He is not asleep. We need to examine carefully the words in the oath of office. I've heard there is language in there to do with allegiance to the Queen. I dont know what else. Maybe they have to say "I believe God is asleep."???

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Sickened 1 year ago

I was listening yesterday to the house and the Speaker really needs to exert his authority better. Everyone was jabbering and carrying on and Moultrie's attempts to be heard over the ruckus were weak and embarrassing. He called them to order at least 6 times and only until the MP who had the floor recalled his submission did the other hooligans settle down. No-one was checking for the Speaker!

The rules of the house need to be updated so that the business of the house can move quickly and clearly and so the PAC and other sub-committees are free to investigate anything that concerns to the people.

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sheeprunner12 1 year ago

Soooooooo, if the Ministers do not lay reports ............. the PAC cannot investigate????

This is a toothless Public Accounts Committee ........... it allows the Government to do anything it wants ............. even though 3 of the 5 MPs are PLPs.

Look at how Congressional Committees can hold the US President accountable ........ That is why many Bahamians are disenchanted with this farcical Cabinet democracy we have .... NO accountability for, to and by The People.

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licks2 1 year ago

The point with that jokey MP is that he was told that the committee is to investigate matters that are tabled before the house. . .not any damn thing they wish!! Mr. Chipman is acting the jack azz. . . why yinna think the Auditor General gave them the report on education. . .all ordered reports and the annual report!! That committee investigate when there are questions about spending before the house!!

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DDK 1 year ago

What a crock of bull! Judging by the report on yesterday's HOA proceedings, Mr. Chipman has every right to be frustrated, and even angry, at this blatant effort to thwart his (PAC)attempts at obtaining transparency of the spending of The People's purse. From what I have observed over time, The Speaker asserts his authority when it suits.......

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licks2 1 year ago

There is no ignorance like willful "shut-eye" kind of ignorance. So what is in this piece that gave him any grounds to be frustrated or angry? I don't mean anything in you and his heads. . .I am talking about the facts in this dialogue!!

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joeblow 1 year ago

Unfortunately the ignant voters in Centerville cannot understand what Chipman is trying to do an dit importance. I hope he can get re-elected gain if he decides to run!

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Sickened 1 year ago

and then cry until dehydrated.

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sheeprunner12 1 year ago

Reece Chipman is the kind of 21st century MP we need in Parliament ......... Unfortunately, he will be a one-term wonder, because our political elites like to swim in the muck & mire of SLOP politics.

The Speaker is not sincere either in ensuring that the PAC is functioning ........ the MOE fraud report is a classic case ....... and God knows what else is hiding out there between Departments and Corporations that have not been revealed ....... The AudGen is trying, but the politicians are frustrating him ......... Just like the MPs, Senators etc. who have not declared their $$$$$ for umpteen years and still running free as birds.

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hnhanna 1 year ago

LMAO, I was complaining about PAC for long time over 20 years,\

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BONEFISH 1 year ago

What we have here in the Bahamas is a joke.We have a powerful executive,the cabinet.A parliament that does not function and a so so judiciary.Watch the house of commons and see the difference.We don't even follow the westminister traditions or conventions. This trend was started like so many things today under the late Sir Lynden Pindling.

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SP 1 year ago

Reese Chipman finally accepted that he is swimming up river against the tide. Piracy excels, commerce diminished!

I hope he and a few others take their seats to the DNA!!

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DDK 1 year ago

DNA needs to get it's act together and find or appoint a GOOD (operative word) LEADER! Like NOW!

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Socrates 1 year ago

I share Chipman's frustration. The system does not work or at least gets no results.. either way, same thing. This is classic bahamas.. keep kicking issues down the road.. pkenty flowery speeches and talk.. just a lot of noise. the deep state Trump and his followers refer too is firmly entrenched in our system too. we need accountability, investigations, committees that function to give teeth to a system of checks and balances...

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TalRussell 1 year ago

Yes or no not hard love legendary drummer comrade Grand papa Nelson - so going hold back until PM Minnis will not longer chosen not to divulge the real reason(s) for firing grandson Reece from Antiquities Monuments & Museum, which has left me mind runs thru all kinds of wild self entertaining speculations. Yes, no?

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licks2 1 year ago

This is one dumb nation. . . from the parliament all the way to this site. . .ignorant babbling without a bit of research to understand anything it seems. . .just one big bunch of yard chicken clucking and scratching the ground looking for worms. . .invisible worms. . .HOUSE COMMITTEES ARE TO INVESTIGATE MATTERS THAT ARE TABLED BEFORE THE HOUSE. . .THE LAST PLP GOVERNMENT MADE A FOOL OF THE OPPOSITION WHEN THEY WERE TOLD BY FORMER SPEAKER MAJOR THAT THE COMMITTEE CANNOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL THE HOUSE IS PRESENTED AND TABLED A CONCERN. . .therefore no move could be made to investigate the Bamsi case until the house is presented with a report!! Also, when the committee is presented with a report. . .the TOR of the report is contained within the report. . .the committee JUST CAN'T GO OFF LIKE A LOOSED CANNON AND REQUEST ANYTHING THEY FEEL LIKE!! The committee do not have powers outside of the house. . .yet it has subpoena power. . .BUT ONLY WITHIN THE FOR CONTAINED IN THE REPORT!! This MP is like he don't understand laws. . .this the same one all over the place fencing in private properties saying that they were his Great Grand father properties. . .therefore they belong to his family. . .even after the court told them they don't own those properties. If yinna want to follow that silly MP. . .go right ahead. . .bit I suggests that yall please read and understand before yall shoot off ya mouth and make Bahamians look like a nations of dumb yard chickens. . .

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DDK 1 year ago

What are you, the great yard rooster?

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licks2 1 year ago

Nope. . .just one of yinna yard chickens them. . .one who is not "willing" to be a dummy. . .or play a dummy yard chicken. . .acting like I don't have no dang sense. . .for whatever reason. . .the facts are the facts. . .keep ya dumb options in ya mar them house. . . when ya come out in the big world. . .use ya common sense ya mar gee ya. . .not acting like a bush bucky. . .OR A BIG DUMB YARD ROOSTER ONLY GOOD FER ONE THING. . .MAKING LIL CHICKENS THEM!!

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licks2 1 year ago

This is one dumb nation. . . from the parliament all the way to this site. . .ignorant babbling without a bit of research to understand anything it seems. . .just one big bunch of yard chicken clucking and scratching the ground looking for worms. . .invisible worms. . .HOUSE COMMITTEES ARE TO INVESTIGATE MATTERS THAT ARE TABLED BEFORE THE HOUSE. . .THE LAST PLP GOVERNMENT MADE A FOOL OF THE OPPOSITION WHEN THEY WERE TOLD BY FORMER SPEAKER MAJOR THAT THE COMMITTEE CANNOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL THE HOUSE IS PRESENTED AND TABLED A CONCERN. . .therefore no move could be made to investigate the Bamsi case until the house is presented with a report!! Also, when the committee is presented with a report. . .the TOR of the report is contained within the report. . .the committee JUST CAN'T GO OFF LIKE A LOOSED CANNON AND REQUEST ANYTHING THEY FEEL LIKE!! The committee do not have powers outside of the house. . .yet it has subpoena power. . .BUT ONLY WITHIN THE FOR CONTAINED IN THE REPORT!! This MP is like he don't understand laws. . .this the same one all over the place fencing in private properties saying that they were his Great Grand father properties. . .therefore they belong to his family. . .even after the court told them they don't own those properties. If yinna want to follow that silly MP. . .go right ahead. . .bit I suggests that yall please read and understand before yall shoot off ya mouth and make Bahamians look like a nations of dumb yard chickens. . .

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