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Clash in Parliament over procurement bill

Published: 
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Speaker Wade Mark, left, and Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley discuss issues during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament. PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE

House Speaker Wade Mark had to warn both PNM MP Terrence Deyalsingh and PP Senator Dr Bhoe Tewarie after they clashed on the Procurement Bill which Tewarie piloted in Parliament yesterday.

 

The bill, designed to prevent corruption in procurement processes for all state agencies, was unanimously passed by Government, Opposition and Independents in the Senate recently.

 

Piloting it yesterday, Tewarie noted the bill’s stipulations sought to provide a balance to the self-interest in the private sector, since the private sector was a significant part of the procurement equation.

 

Tewarie had just finished outlining several government achievements, saying constitutional reform would come to a close, and was about to speak about other aspects of reform, when PNM MP Colm Imbert interrupted, asking if Government would sanction amendments to the procurement bill.

 

Tewarie said he preferred not to since the bill was fully scrutinised by a Joint Select Committee and unanimously passed by all sides with amendments in the Senate. He said, however, if there was anything compelling, it would be considered .

 

Imbert complained to ILP’s Jack Warner that Tewarie was “arrogant” and “disrespectful” and PNM’s Marlene McDonald said the same.

 

Tewarie, who said he did not want to “go there,” then replied that the PNM had tried to sabotage the bill.

 

He said, “They walked out of the JSC process and the only reason they co-operated in the Senate to pass it was due to public outcry and editorials, and the Independents supporting it. I don’t want, now, with the Parliament session coming to an end, for this bill to lapse,”

 

“It’s not the Government that’s being disrespectful. Government respected every view. It’s the Opposition that has been disrespectful and contemptuous not only of the Parliament but the process and also the need and desire for T&T [to have] decent and honourable laws.”

 

Deyalsingh said it was unfortunate he was scolded by a non-elected member. He said the PNM walked out of the JSC due to Tewarie’s statements about T&T being a failed state in 2010 and the Invaders’ Bay project. 

 

He said the PNM would support the bill, but wanted to be sure about what would be proclaimed since the PNM didn’t want “another Section 34.”

 

Deyalsingh said a businessman was reported in a newspaper saying Cabinet had green-lighted the Invaders’ Bay project and Tewarie had told him he would get it. Tewarie asked to see the news report. 

 

Deyalsingh offered to show it to him. Mark intervened, saying Deyalsingh had to take responsibility for quotations he used.

 

Deyalsingh questioned why the recent Supplementation Bill approved $1 million for PriceWaterhouseCoopers to report on terms and conditions for the project, if Cabinet had already approved it .

 

He said the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry had filed questions on the project and not received answers. Tewarie said the matter was before the court. Deyalsingh asked if Government had a lease ensuring the property was vested in the State. Tewarie, in his seat, muttered responses. Mark then warned both men.

 

 

 

More in Parliament

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the issue of Chanka Seeteram and the FCB IPO share issue, Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday.

 

Replying to Opposition questions in Parliament yesterday, Howai said the report on the probe into the FCB-IPO issue was received and had been sent to the Attorney General who passed it on to the DPP.

 

He said the AG had advised it could not be laid in Parliament since it had gone that route. He said that report did not deal with the Seeteram issue, but the SEC was asked to examine the latter issue separately.

 

Howai said there tended to be greater demand for foreign exchange in the month of June because businesspeople put in orders at that time for goods and services for Eid, Divali and Christmas later in the year. There were also more travellers, and students were being registered in schools .

 

Howai listed banks including merchant banks that were now authorised to sell foreign exchange. He said the new additions—four merchant banks—were added since business customers were the largest buyers of foreign exchange, and with more avenues to obtain this and increased competition, the consumer would benefit from better prices. 

 

 

More in Parliament

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the issue of Chanka Seeteram and the FCB IPO share issue, Finance Minister Larry Howai said yesterday.

 

Replying to Opposition questions in Parliament yesterday, Howai said the report on the probe into the FCB-IPO issue was received and had been sent to the Attorney General who passed it on to the DPP.

 

He said the AG had advised it could not be laid in Parliament since it had gone that route. He said that report did not deal with the Seeteram issue, but the SEC was asked to examine the latter issue separately.

 

Howai said there tended to be greater demand for foreign exchange in the month of June because businesspeople put in orders at that time for goods and services for Eid, Divali and Christmas later in the year. There were also more travellers, and students were being registered in schools .

 

Howai listed banks including merchant banks that were now authorised to sell foreign exchange. He said the new additions—four merchant banks—were added since business customers were the largest buyers of foreign exchange, and with more avenues to obtain this and increased competition, the consumer would benefit from better prices.