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Planning Minister on procurement law: Regulator will be independent
An amendment to the Draft Public Procurement Bill will take into consideration matters of procurement in government-to-government agreements, said Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie.
“The amendment of the bill would take into consideration key issues that have been in contention. The amendment will acknowledge the sovereignty of the state and the rights of governments elected to engage other governments in treaties and agreements. But that clause will take into account in the matter of procurement that the law on procurement does apply. I think we have found a formula of balancing these two issues,” he told the Business Guardian.
Debate on the bill is expected to begin in the Senate next Tuesday.
Winston Riley, chairman of the Public Sector/Civil Society Group on Public Procurement, had raised concerns about Clause 7 of the bill.
Tewarie said he had discussions with the group and has found a middle ground on some of the more contentious issues.
In April, Riley told the Business Guardian Clause 7 of the bill was “disturbing” and that the government-to-government clause should be removed.
“Clause 7 states that the act does not apply to the procurement of goods works or services arising out of a treaty to which T&T is a party with one or more states or with an international lending agency. Any international treaty that has to do with goods or services is outside the bill. The Prime Minster just came back from China with billions of dollars worth of investment. There are other government-to-government arrangements on the cards with Austria and Canada,” Riley had said.
Tewarie said the main objectives of the procurement legislation is to promote accountability, transparency, value for money, efficiency, local industry development and sustainable procurement.
“The bill also speaks about a procurement regulator that is independent of any ministry and appointed by the president of the country. It also speaks about the Procurement Board being appointed by the president. The procurement regulator is independent of any political office and answers directly to Parliament,” he said.
Tewarie spoke to the Business Guardian on Tuesday at his office in the Ministry of Planning, Eric Williams Financial Complex, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.