Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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The Procurement Commission
(Aired 17 June 2003)

   In 2001 as a result of an amendment to the constitution by act No. 5 of 2001 and assented to By Bharrat Jagdeo on the 1st June 2001, it was decided and declared that this country will have a Public Procurement Commission. This Commission would among other things quote "monitor public procurement and procedures therefor, in order to ensure that the procurement of goods, services and execution of works are conducted in a fair equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective manner according to law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the national assembly" end quote.

   This Public Procurement Commission would comprise five members who shall be experienced in these matters

   The Commission would be independent and even I could not find any reason why the method of their appointment would not make them truly independent.   .

   They will be appointed in the manner outlined in the constitution at article 212X (2) which states and I quote "The President shall appoint the members of the Commission after such members have been nominated by the Public accounts Committee and approved by not less then two thirds of the elected members of the national Assembly" end quote.

   The formation of the Public Procurement Commission was inevitable, in view of the numerous claims by the local contractors and their association that they were being sidelined and marginalised and that the work was being given to supporters of the PPP who were executing the works incompetently. The Lama Conservancy dam, being a good example, so the necessity for this Procurement Commission came after the International Financial Institutions [IFIs] apparently demanded a change in the way procurement to do national works were being monitored and executed with monies that the IFIs were lending us, clearly the local contractors, affected by this discrimination, finally had their voices heard after examples of shoddy work, too numerous to recount here, were identified by them to the International Lenders.

   So in 2001 the Constitutional Amendment Act No. 5 of 2001 was tabled in the National Assembly and the President assented to it and it became law.

   After the Jagdeo Hoyte dialog fell apart with claims of bad faith by Hoyte who withdrew his party from the parliament, the PPP notwithstanding that they had assented to this Public Procurement Commission did an incredible thing to satisfy the International Financial Institutions (IFIs); they tabled a bill in the absence of the PNC which they called the Procurement Act No. 6 of 2002 to which Mr. Jagdeo also assented, this act sought to establish a National Procurement and Tender Administration.

  This entity would comprise 5 members chosen by the Minister of Finance from among members of the public service and two members appointed from the private sector. So in this Procurement Administration body of seven men and women, five would be under the control and influence of the Minister of Finance, in other words this entire Procurement Administration would be a creature of its political master, the Minister of Finance; and allow corrupt business as usual to continue in the public procurement sector, all of which had prompted the IFIs to object to the way public procurement was being conducted in this country in the first place, i.e. exactly what the IFIs and the Contractors Association did not want. .

   There are essentials contained in this Procurement Act that catches the attention immediately they are section 8. (1) Which says and I quote "suppliers or contractors are permitted to participate in procurement proceedings without regard to nationality. Except in cases in which the procuring entity decides on grounds specified in the procurement regulations or any other law, to limit participation in procurement on the basis of nationality".

And section 17 subsections (1), (2) & (3).

(1) tells us that quote "the National Board will be responsible for existing jurisdiction over tenders the value of which exceeds such an amount as prescribed by the regulations, appointing a pool of evaluators for such period as it may determine, and maintaining efficient record keeping and quality assurances systems" and (2) tells us that quote "in addition pending the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission the national Board will be responsible for (a) making regulations governing procurement to carry out the provisions of this act" etc, etc. and that (3) quote "when the Public Procurement Commission is established the responsibilities of the National Board shall be limited to those provided in subsection (1) and all other responsibilities listed in this section shall be the responsibility of the Public Procurement Commission" well ladies and gentlemen  why go to all of this trouble putting in regulations which are supposed to last a few days? The answer is simple it will not last a few days.  

    Those among you therefore who are waiting for the Public Procurement Commission to be formed under these circumstances,.... don't hold your breath, it never will, here is the first duplicity in the new dispensation of the Communiqué, the PPP tell the opposition, the contractors and the International Lenders that they will put this Commission in place, they even conducted a charade of sending out a list of their own nominees, they ask the PNC to submit their nominees, but nevertheless they are rushing to Parliament on Thursday 19th June 2003 to put in place a body of completely politically polarised persons who will be creatures of the Minister of Finance and the Government, to operate in a situation where the Procurement Commission is not yet formed, with the ability to change any laws they want to do so.

    Before I proceed further let me tell you that to confuse the situation further there are two Procurement Bills, one is identified as No.6 of 2002 which Mr. Jagdeo assented to, and the new one issued last week and contains a few variations none of which are of any consequence or significance to stamp out the corrupt practices currently going on, this one I am calling the Procurement Bill No. DUH of 2003.

   Who the hell do you think you are fooling boys? it certainly cannot be me. The second Procurement Bill was presented to the opposition a few days ago and they have not had time to study it, the PPP want to appease the International Lenders but they have no intention, it seems, of having a Procurement Commission anytime soon, so that the shenanigans can continue. Begging two questions; you chaps ain't thief enough? You want extra time to thief more?

   This is like saying that we are going to build a school, we will build the building, we will assemble the children in their respective classes, and we will let them sit there until we go out and look for the teachers, cleaners, security etc. in the mean time they can run amok in the place, it is a complete nonsense.

   The Public Procurement Commission comes first, it was what the amendment to the Constitution visualised what we do not need is this National Procurement Board which is totally politicised and which was never contained in the constitutional amendment.

  So set up the Public Procurement Commission now, immediately, or face the consequences of another walk out of the Parliament and another couple of years of chaos.

  But I want the PPP's supporters and the International Lenders to know that the little peace we are experiencing at present is threatened by this further display of duplicity and stupidity.

   Ladies and gentlemen I believe that it may just be time to raise our voices and call for a General Election in this country. The way things are going now, we won't last until 2006.