Exemptions are Part of Modern Procurement – Imbert

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

EXEMPTIONS are part of any modern procurement law globally with Trinidad and Tobago not being an exception.

This is according to Minister of Finance Colm Imbert as he tabled the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment and Validation) bill in an extraordinary sitting of the Parliament on Wednesday.

The objectives of the Bill according to Imbert are:

  • To address a drafting error that arose in relation to Section 7.7 of the Act and introduced through Section 5 (b) of the Bill 

  • To validate two exemption Orders made by way of legal notices No.164 of 2023 and No. 206 of 2023 that arose directly from the error

  • To modify the method by which Orders and Regulations are made under Section 7 and 6.3 of the Act 

  • To introduce a procurement threshold of $1 million for goods and services which would be exempted from the procurement requirements under the Act subject to regulation.


He demonstrated using global references that the introduction of $1 million for goods and services was not unusual and “does not water down or erode the objectives of the act.”

Imbert said, “On the contrary, the introduction of a threshold will bring certainty to the vast amount of small and micro enterprises in this country that have been left out of the procurement depositary for one reason or another.”

To justify his reasons for the two orders signed by him one on May 29, 2023, and the other on June 29, 2023, he debated that due to the lengthy process of the acquisition of goods and services as a result of the Act, it could bring the country to a halt and would not be helpful in an emergency.

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However, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her contribution said the two orders were connected to events not deemed as emergency as government would have had ample knowledge that the CARICOM event was being planned in advance and the judiciary would have needed goods and services.

She dismissed Imbert’s statements as “poppycock.”

Persad-Bissessar asked: “What has suddenly arisen? Tell us why you did this?”

“I want to know each of these items contracted out, how much to whom,” she demanded.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Photo: T&T Parliament

There were already provisions in the law to deal with emergencies, Persad-Bissessar also said.

She said she came along with her MPs to Parliament, “knowing full well that the outcome of this debate in the House today has already been decided.”

Persad-Bissessar said, “The Government has said that they will use their majority come what may to push these amendments through the Parliament…We decided we will come because we want to raise our concerns on behalf of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Attorney General Reginald Armour spoke after Persad-Bissessar.

He said, “What is clear Madam Speaker is that the correction of the perceived error in legislation is for judicial pronouncement or legislative enactment and by the Bill before this House today in accordance with law, the government has opted for legislative amendment to correct an error.”

Armour continued, “Because lawyers on either side accept that legislative errors accept that legislative errors are to be corrected either by the courts or by legislature, we are here today before this legislature to correct errors in the law which was applied on its literal construction on the 29th of May and the 29th of June.”


Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein who initially raised the issue publicly followed with brief remarks.

According to the Government’s side, Clause 5 (a)1 was to bypass the Office of the Procurement Regulator, he said.

Hosein said, “It allows the government again to do what they like. These contractors will not be subject to the Office of the Procurement Regulator.

Attorney General Reginald Armour. Photo: T&T Parliament

He has been dubbed “the little boy from San Juan” by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who was notably absent from Wednesday’s sitting.

Hosein said, “When you read all of the amendments on the whole Madam Speaker, what it does is that we don’t need this Procurement Act again. The Government could basically throw away this piece of legislation because they can do as they like.” 


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