Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI urge govt to ‘withdraw amendments to section 7(2)’ of Public Procurement bill

Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI urge govt to ‘withdraw amendments to section 7(2)’ of Public Procurement bill

“[…] The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI do not support the introduction of Clause 5 which seeks to make amendment to section 7 as this would act in contravention to the intent of the entire Act, thereby limiting its purpose…”

The following statement on the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was submitted to Wired868 by the Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI:

Photo: Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI support the opinion of the Procurement Regulator Chairman, Moonilal Lalchan, published on 3rd December 2020 stating that: ‘The Office of the Procurement Regulation (‘The OPR’) has reviewed the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and agrees with all of the amendments except the proposed Clause 5, which seeks to amend Section 7 of Act No. 1 of 2015’.

The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI agree with the points put forth by the OPR that this amendment serves to undermine the objective of the Act—and specifically, accountability, integrity and, in particular, Transparency and Value for Money.

On Friday 4th December, in the lower house of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, a decision was made to pass changes to the legislation on government procurement. The changes were passed based on a simple majority.

Section 7.2 is amended to exempt, ceteris paribus, government to government contracts.

The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI stand firmly in support of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill 2020 which the Associations deem to be in service of the public good.

However, The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI do not support the introduction of Clause 5 which seeks to make amendment to section 7 as this would act in contravention to the intent of the entire Act, thereby limiting its purpose.

Photo: Bribery has long plagued Trinidad and Tobago’s public sector.
(Copyright Canadian Business)

In this regard, The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI support the position of the OPR in the following considerations outlined in his statement of 3rd December 2020:

  1. Thorough consultation from 2018 to present with various sectors and 1400 suppliers/contractors resulted in stakeholders reiterating that there should be no amendment to section 7;
  2. Local suppliers /contractors may be deprived of a fair and equitable chance to participate in procurement proceedings;
  3. Arrangements which are repaid with public money fall within the ambit of the Act, especially the principle ‘Value of Money’ and should have the oversight of the OPR—without exclusion.

This Bill is still yet scheduled to go to the upper house (Senate) for debate on Tuesday 8th December.

In view of the above considerations, we call on the government to withdraw amendments to Section 7(2) and commit to a definite date for the laying in Parliament of long-promised Regulations to operationalise the Act.

The Joint Chambers, JCC and TTTI recognise the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill as the foundation for transparent, accountable process that relies solely on a fair and equitable process for all.

Image: A satirical take on corruption.

Editor’s Note: Clause 5 states: Section 7 of the Act is amended—

(a) in subsection (2), by deleting the words after the words ‘prevail’ and substituting the word ‘.’; and

(b) by inserting after subsection (4), the following new subsections:

‘(5) This Act shall not apply to the following services provided to public bodies or State-controlled enterprises—(a) legal services; (b) financial services; (c) accounting and auditing services; (d) medical services; or (e) such other services as the Minister may, by Order, determine.

(6) An Order under subsection (5); shall be subject to negative resolution of Parliament’.

6. Section 13(1).

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