Bodies Call for More Consultation on Procurement Law

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ALTHOUGH much-debated amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act are passed in the House of Representatives by a simple majority, several organisations are calling for further consultation.

Several private-sector civil society organisations met on Monday to discuss the proposed amendments and called for consultations with Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

The group was chaired by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) and included AMCHAM T&T, T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services (TTCSI), and the T&T Transparency Institute. 

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In a joint statement on Thursday, the organisations stated, “We reiterate the need for efficient procurement to ensure contracts are awarded in a fair and open manner by levelling the playing field; to protect both government agencies and private businesses from unfair or deceptive practices; and to ensure that contracts are fulfilled according to agreed upon terms and conditions.”

They noted there were some issues that were not effectively addressed in the procurement process including the registration requirements with time delays and the operating system itself.

They stated, “After discussion and consideration, the organisations came to the conclusion that amending the Act to remove the need for affirmative resolution of the Parliament to make an Order would not be in the best interest of a transparent procurement regime.

“We therefore do not support amending the Act to allow for Ministerial Orders to be made subject to negative resolution of the Parliament.”

The organisations also said they did not support the threshold under which the Act need not apply  being set at $1 million.

They also stated, “The group is of the view that legitimate challenges with the operationalisation of the Act, as opposed to deficiencies of the Act itself are being identified as justification for an attempt to amend the law.”

Acknowledging that the process of registering may be difficult, they said the responsibility for prequalification lied with the procuring entities via their appointed procurement officers and through interaction with the Office of Public Procurement to ensure that the intent of the law is achieved without creating unnecessary bureaucracy. 

This will require the urgent recognition and implementation of specific procedures by several state agencies whomust have the capacity to efficiently adhere to deadlines, they said. 

The groups stated, “We respectfully request that the Minister of Finance to reconsider his position and further discuss the matter via consultation and agreement with the private sector and the OPR. 

“Our respective organisations look forward to further discussion and an outcome which maintains the original intent of the procurement mandate and essentially achieves the objective of ensuring fairness, compliance, and good governance.”


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