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JCC: Draft procurement legislation ‘waste of time’

...calls for removal of clause seven

By Camille Bethel

 Members of the public sector and civil society including the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) are calling for the removal of clause seven of Government’s draft procurement legislation.

Immediate past president and current executive member of the JCC Winston Riley told the Express yesterday that the industry has been dealing with this issue for the past 35 years and with clause seven in the legislation it makes no sense.

 “Forget the bill, you can dump it. The bill is a complete waste of time once that clause seven is there and we told them (Government) so in writing. 

“If the bill does not pass then the status quo remains and the status quo shows that government to Government remains with certain conditions; they have to go through a company that is owned by the government and we have to be involved in a company that is owned by the government and that was the basis of it, government could act on its own behalf and that was why all those State-owned companies were started and you had this proliferation in Manning’s regime. 

“Under this approach what could happen is anything Government wants not to go under the regulator or the regulations can be done government  to government. 

“You have $7 to $8 or $9 billion coming from the Chinese another set coming from the international lending agencies which was never part of clause 20 (A) all of those you don’t have to go through the Central Tenders Board,” Riley said.

He pointed out that it is not that they are against government to government arrangements but there is a procedure for doing it. 

 “We had an approach of how it could be done. The public sector and civil society  is of the view that clause seven of the government 2014 draft be deleted for the following reasons and we list the reasons.”

He said these include; that it is drafted in the negative, the present approach of the International financial institutions on procurement of goods works or services is to accept the country’s procurement processes as the default position. 

In addition under the Government’s 2014 draft Act if the office of the regulator has the power to issue guidelines to procuring agencies then in the event that the International Financial Institutions (IFI) procurement regulations are superior to that of the Trinidad and Tobago then the Procurement Regulatory can issue the relevant guidelines.

“So there is no need for that,” Riley said. 

He added that the procuring body must have the right to vet preferred designer/contractor/supplier in bilateral agreements taking into account past performance of the preferred supplier on similar projects, staffing as well as ethical and corruption issues. 

A procedure, he said, must also be set up to allow for a transparent and accountable method for measuring and validating local content of goods works and services to meet the requirements of the loans and concessions.

“The procuring body can undertake value engineering methodologies at prescribed stages of the procurement process to satisfy the value for money, transparency and accountability principles of the bill.

“And this is crucial because if you  see what is happening at National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) there, if you had value engineering matter the materials they put inside there and the fittings they put inside there if they were supposed to last 20 to 25 years they could not  just put what they want inside there. Those are factors that had to be taken into account. 

“So you bring everything under the control of cost, transparency value for money,” he added. 

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