Procurement draft bill not good, says JCC
Curtis Rampersad Publications Editor
President of civil society group the Joint Consultative Council Afra Raymond has criticised the Government’s proposed procurement law, calling it a “bogus bill”.
He said yesterday the draft bill covering procurement related to projects using taxpayers’ money had several “horrifying” features and could allow Government to “bypass rules” and allow friends and financiers of the ruling Partnership government to benefit from projects involving public funds.
Raymond was speaking at a luncheon meeting hosted by the Rotary Club of Port of Spain West at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s.
The draft bill by the government excludes critical factors such as government-to-government arrangements on construction projects, he said.
“What it means is that if you want to do something big, quick and odd, you can go government to government and bypass the rules,” he suggested, adding that the draft legislation did not allow for civil society oversight either.
He worried that this could help financiers of the People’s Partnership government, “but what happens when another party comes into power”.
Raymond also expressed concern about procurement issues with regard to large projects like the Penal hospital, the Couva Children’s Hospital and large office spaces for rent in Government buildings at Richmond St in Port of Spain.
He challenged Planning Minister Bhoendradatt Tewarie to a public procurement debate.
Contacted yesterday, Tewarie — under whose ministry the draft legislation falls — said: “I don’t understand why Mr Raymond is picking a fight. The bill was sent to the JCC, this was unsolicited, and they indicated they would like the bill withdrawn. But I don’t see how after a Joint Select Committee (of Parliament) deliberated on the policy and when the JCC demanded that procurement legislation be brought before Parliament that we can consider withdrawing the bill.”
Tewarie said the government was seeking to engage interested parties and will consider public sentiment and Parliament consensus when the bill comes up for debate and if stronger measures are needed, the bill can be amended.
The draft bill is now before the Legislative Review Committee, Tewarie said, adding that all documents submitted to the JSC were “duly considered” and the recommendations of the JSC and the consensus position of Parliament would have taken into consideration all the documents.