Tynwald Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member Mr Michael Coleman MLC and its clerk, Mrs Joann Corkish, have returned from Montserrat after participating in a workshop to identify measures that will strengthen the effectiveness of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly’s PAC operation and heighten the committee’s visibility.
Head of the delegation Mr Coleman and Mrs Corkish joined representatives from the Scottish Parliament and Parliament of Jamaica for the workshop, organised in tandem with, and wholly funded by, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) UK and part of a three-year UK Overseas Territories Project to develop good practice in public financial oversight.
Mr Coleman said: ‘The workshop was set against the recognition that the Montserrat PAC is currently in very “low gear”. Our input and that of all our fellow delegates was extremely well received. I maintained the stance throughout that there was no “one size fits all” solution to running an effective PAC and that there was a variety of different mechanisms to empower the PAC, improve its processes, raise its profile and, in so doing, enhance its credibility. Our Montserrat colleagues were swift to accept that approach and recognised that the more effective and independent the PAC becomes, the more respect it will gain. I also chaired a mock PAC session which provided an opportunity for them to put into practice some of the measures discussed and illustrated the value of robust evidence-gathering procedures.’
Mr Coleman added that the workshop had also brought together representatives from the Government of Montserrat, civil society organisations and the local media and that he and Mrs Corkish were among delegates who took part in an hour-long press briefing. He concluded: ‘The workshop was very successful and demonstrated to great effect how valuable sharing knowledge and experience within the Commonwealth “family” can be.’
Mr Coleman is pictured second left and Mrs Corkish extreme right during one of the Montserrat PAC workshop sessions