Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi
By Sue-Ann Wayow
OPPOSITION Senator Wade Mark is not being truthful when he speaks about the Procurement Bill that is presently being implemented says Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Al-Rawi said he was not surprised by Mark’s statements that the Opposition will not support any other legislation if the Procurement Bill was not withdrawn and that “the submissions coming from Senator Mark are fundamentally dishonest.”
Al-Rawi said, “The Government accepts that we will have no support from the UNC full-stop on anything. They are not interested in Trinidad and Tobago.”
He emphasised that although the controversial bill was passed, there will be significant time before it could be fully implemented.
“While the Government is aggressively implementing its part, all that is required for the Procurement Legislation being put into effect, the Government can only do its part.”
He said until critical elements were finalised, the Procurement Bill will not be fully implemented as implied by commentary writers and the Opposition.
“It is wrong for anybody to say that the matter was ready for operationalisation,” Al-Rawi said.
Critical elements included challenge procurement and a review committee.
Referring particularly to Section 63 of the Act, the attorney general said, “Anyone that has not won on a procurement has the right to challenge the proceedings. Those challenge proceedings are set out in Section 49.”
“The challenge procurement is a critically important element that must be entity.”
A review board is also required before the Act could be operationalised. That review board has been appointed, with Justice Sebastian Ventour as the chairman of that board with two other members being appointed, he said.
Al-Rawi said, “That review board is effectively something that requires an office, staff, it requires processes. It requires a system of filing of documents, a hearing schedule. All of these things have to be put in place. In other words, that process requires a form of a court and until those regulations are produced and the processes have been marked in the review proceedings, there can be no effective operalisation of the procurement laws.”
Reading from a document from the Office of the Public Procurement Regulator, Al-Rawi said it indicated that e-hearings will be a part of proceedings from March 21, 2021 but a “full e-hearing functionality” was required and that the necessary software needed to be in sync with each other.
The attorney general said at his office, all steps for full implementation were being monitored and tracked.
And Al-Rawi said if the law was not amended, Government could end up in “ ridiculous and dangerous” situations.