Opposition Leader and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Lennox Linton, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the response of interim Financial Secretary (FS), Francisca Pascal, to his request for information with regard to the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
At a press conference, on August 7, Linton revealed that he had written to the FS, Rosemund Edwards—who has since gone on vacation leave —seeking information on the CBI programme for the last three financial years, ending June 30, 2019, and named August 14, as the deadline for the receipt of the information.
However, speaking on Q95’s ‘Hot Seat’ with Matt Peltier, on Tuesday morning, Linton stated that the FS’s response details that in order for his request to be considered, it should be made in accordance with the standing orders of the House of Assembly.
“We have been advised, however, that such request should have been made through the Clerk of the House of Assembly, since the Public Accounts Committee is a select committee appointed by the House [of Assembly],” he quotes the letter as saying. “On receipt of a request in accordance with the standing orders of the House of Assembly, the Ministry of Finance will give the matter further consideration.”
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was further instructed to “note the provisions of Section 72 of Chapter 1:01 of the 1999 Revised Laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica to guide the submission of any further requests.”
Linton claims that the standing order has been used by officials of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) as a tactic to frustrate the process of accessing information.
“This standing order is the subject of a legal opinion that has been made available to operatives like the Financial Secretary… and which they have used to frustrate the process of getting information to the Public Accounts Commitee from these offices of the State, and they’re doing it again,” he stated.
Linton noted that copies of the letter were also sent to Roosevelt Skerrit, Alix Boyd-Knights, Speaker of the House, Daniel James – Clerk of the House. Felix Thomas – Member of the Public Accounts Committee, Senator Edward Registe – Member of the Public Accounts Committee, Senator Jaisiah Benoit – Member of the Public Accounts Committee.
Earlier this month, in his response to the 2019-2020 National Budget presentation of the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit, Linton asserted that the amount of CBI revenue that was reported for the financial year 2018-2019 was short by a billion dollars which he said should be accounted for.