Allen Chastanet opened a political can of worms in the House of Assembly on Tuesday during a debate on a proposed amendment to the Public Finance Management Act, after circulating a document calling on the government to adhere to “Best Practices” in relation to “Transparency and Accountability”.
Chastanet in making his presentation to the House said, “When we don’t handle public finances with transparency and accountability, money will go to waste that needs to be there when it’s needed…”
His comments were met with derision and ridicule from several members on the government side. The Prime Minister, Philip J Pierre, reminded the former PM Allen Chastanet of the several contracts he granted just prior to the last General Elections amounting to over 100 million dollars, all by direct award, and in some cases for works already incorporated in other government -awarded contracts.
Former UWP Prime Minister Stephenson King, joined in the criticism of Chastanet saying how UWP Cabinets Ministers, in the previous administration, had canceled contracts granted by the Ministry of Infrastructure, which he, King, headed, because the awardees were deemed to be supporters of the Labour Party. In addition to canceling those contracts, he was according to King, “roasted” and made to feel that he had committed some unforgivable sin.
Richard Frederick, now on the government benches, in response to Chastanet’s call, excoriated the former PM for the many decisions he made while in office, which were not in keeping with the principles of transparency and accountability.
Prime Minister Pierre chided the Opposition Leader for his lack of accountability while he was last in government, saying “You can quote Best Practice and Good Governance as much as you like, but taxpayers will have to get an account for their hard-earned dollars.”
Under a barrage of criticism from the government side, Chastanet appeared to have lost his way in trying to respond to the accusations hurled at him, resulting in the House Speaker calling on him on several occasions to “address the matters before the House” that were inconsistent with the contents of the document from which he was making his presentation; Chastanet eventually acknowledged and apologized (to the House) for not having read the copy of the updated amendment sent to his office ahead of the meeting.