Now that the Third Session of the 12th Parliament has been officially opened, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley revealed yesterday that it will be a busy session for the next year.
“This period that is coming up would be very hectic, there are a number of things that the Government intends to get done,” Rowley said.
The contentious Public Procurement legislation is high on the list to be completed.
“We expect to get the procurement legislation proclaimed fully, there are some lil (sic) hiccups and rough edges in there but I expect that we are going to go ahead with it and smooth them out along the way,” he said.
For months there have been increasing calls from stakeholders, including from the Joint Consultative Council (JCC), for the law to be fully proclaimed.
According to former JCC president Afra Raymond, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act was passed over seven years ago in January 2015, during the People’s Partnership administration. He said the PNM administration then amended the act three times before the regulations were agreed to with The Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) and approved by the Parliament seven months ago, in January 2022.
Other items on the legislative agenda for the Government are cybercrime laws, election financing and the Revenue Authority, Rowley said.
Local Government reform is also a key focus.
Dr Rowley said the operationalisation of the legislation is expected to be done by 2023. He said the reform and election would go hand in hand.
So, will there be an election this year?
“Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know,” he said.
As it relates to anti-crime legislation, he said there aren’t many new things but said there needs to be an improvement in detection and prosecution and case management at the courts.
“I must tell you, without being personally critical of members of the Judiciary, our system of dispensing justice is much too slow and it benefits the criminal element,” he said.
The PM said once a crime has been detected and evidence produced, the courts must work expeditiously to resolve the matter.
“This thing about a matter starting in year nought and by year fifty it is still going on that is wholly unacceptable and whether it is my fault, your fault, their fault it is just unacceptable,” he added.
He said a lot of money has been spent and effort put in and “we are not seeing any improvement.”
He said that is one of the big problems facing T&T and it is quite demoralising to the T&TPS.