Opposition MP Colm Imbert yesterday criticised the Government for seeking to approve new procurement legislation that gave the proposed regulator too much power.He was speaking in Parliament yesterday during debate on new procurement legislation, which was brought by Planning and Sustainable Development Minister Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie.
Imbert said the law provided no checks and balances for the official, who was to be appointed by the President. A review panel should be established to look at certain decisions of the procurement regulator, he said. Without a review panel there would be a lengthy and costly process to challenge any decision of the regulator, he said."It will take you years and will cost you millions to challenge a decision of a procurement entity," he added.
Imbert said in Grenada there was a procurement board which reviewed the decisions of a procurement entity there.Based on the proposed law, there was nobody to review the decisions made by the regulator other than the High Court, he said, telling legislators T&T "must be the only country in the world that has that situation."
Describing the bill as defective, Imbert said when it became law and the regulator was appointed for a seven-year term he or she "can suspend procurement, terminate procurement, can overturn a contract."That could only be challenged via the lengthy and costly court process and that situation could not be accepted in any progressive nation, he argued.
He added: "You can't have that because what the Executive is doing is handing over its development programme to an unelected official who will not and cannot be removed by anybody in practice and would have supreme power."
He said the Opposition drafted amendments to the legislation to prevent that situation but they were not accepted by the Government. One of them, he said, would provide for the regulator to be removed by the findings of a tribunal appointed by the President following a resolution of both Houses of Parliament.
Tewarie made no mention of that during his presentation earlier, he said, and did not address the issues that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said would be dealt with during the October break.But Works and Infrastructure Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan, who spoke after Imbert, said there were provisions in the legislation for the removal of the regulator and the conditions for removal of the regulator were clearly spelt out in the legislation.
"The regulator," he said, "cannot just get up an decide that 'I will put pressure on somebody and I will do this and so on.' It cannot happen like that."There are checks and balances in the legislation to deal with these particular matters."He said the bill also provided for the behaviour of the regulator to be debated in Parliament if necessary.
Following that, the Finance and the Economy Minister "can then make recommendations to the Cabinet for the removal of the regulator and this can then be put to the President for action," he noted.He said Imbert omitted to mention that provision.
Griffith mum on res
Contacted last night, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the operation to bring the family back to T&T was ongoing.
However, he declined to say at what stage it had reached.
"I am obliged to respect the privacy of the family until they at least get to London. I prefer not to comment now because to do so will compromise the operation."