Saddam to Imbert: Summon Parliament for Procurement Order

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AN explanation is being demanded of Finance Minister Colm Imbert for purportedly putting in place an Order that exempts from the Public Procurement Act, the provision of goods and services for events attended to by foreign diplomats just for a period of three months.

On Sunday, Opposition Member of Parliament Saddam Hosein claimed that the Order was signed on June 29 by Imbert on the eve of the CARICOM summit which saw several heads of state, regionally and internationally coming together for the occasion in Port of Spain.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert

At the Opposition press briefing, Hosein said, “On the eve of the CARICOM meeting he published this Order to say any expenditure associated with the visits of these Heads of Government isn’t subject to procurement!”

He declared the Order was illegal as it was not given Parliamentary approval and is suggesting that since Parliament is on a break, the Government should withdraw it.

Parliament should be reconvened for an extraordinary sitting just to justify why the Order was done for three months, especially in an election season.

“So Minister Imbert must not pay a single cent under this Order until he gets Parliament’s approval,” Hosein said.

He referred to Imbert’s address in the Senate on December 8, 2020, quoting him saying, “If any additional services are to be added to the list of exempt services it will require debate and a vote in both Houses of Parliament.”

Hosein said, “The Order has to be laid and debated in Parliament’s House of Representatives and the Senate and passed in both Houses. But this Order never saw the Parliament, was never debated, or reached the Red House. Yet Imbert, by signature, is exempting costs associated with the events.”

He said, “This was done on the eve of the CARICOM summit, but Minister Imbert, you have to think again. You must summon the Parliament for us to discuss it. Because this involves exempting out of the procurement law, goods and services and you can give any Tom, Dick, or Harry a contract for any amount of money.” 

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While he said the law for the Finance Ministry to make an Order to exempt items from the procurement law was passed in 2020, such specific Orders required Parliament approval.

He said  the recently concluded CARICOM crime symposium took two days and cost taxpayers $3.4 million and one could only imagine what the CARICOM 50th anniversary celebrations cost.

“I have no problem with T&T hosting foreign dignitaries but it must be done with transparency and in accordance with the law,” Hosein also said.


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