Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 23rd 2014 Contents A5
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Finance and the Economy Minister Larry
Howai says the much anticipated new procure-
ment legislation is not likely to be implemented
within the next year.
He revealed that during yesterday s public Stand-
ing Committee meeting of the House of Repre-
sentatives on the 2015 budget in response to a
question from People s National Movement (PNM)
MP Colm Imbert.
It was the first time such a meeting was being
held in public and the session looked at the pro-
visions of the budget line by line, as Opposition
MPs were allowed to ask questions and obtain
The session looked at the provisions in the
budget for the Ministry of Finance and the Econ-
omy first and then the Office of the Prime Min-
Imbert reminded legislators that Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar had said previously that
it was her Government s intention to have the new
procurement legislation enacted early in the current
He wanted to know why the Central Tenders
Board allocation for 2015 was being increased from
$7.1 million in 2014 to $7.2 million in the wake of
the proposed new procurement regulator.
But Howai said it was unlikely the new legislation
would be implemented soon.
"There will be a period of time before we could
move from the Central Tenders Board to the pro-
curement regulator," he said.
He said consultants have already been employed
to start the transition process, but "it is a very
complex transition, it is likely to take more than
12 months and in the circumstances and given the
arrangements, we expect that we will need to carry
the Central Tenders for at least 12 more months."
In seeking clarification, Imbert asked if the min-
ister was saying the existing procurement regime
would remain in effect for one more year.
Howai replied: "That is our projection and we
have taken the conservative and more careful view
that we have everything in place in the event that
it goes for a longer period of time."
Imbert also asked Howai to explain why there
was a provision for $150 million for legal services
in his ministry. Howai said that was for legal
expenses incurred from the Clico/Hindu Credit
Union matter and others. However, he was unable
to give details.
Earlier in yesterday s session, leader of Govern-
ment business, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Mooni-
lal, told Opposition MPs that they should not seek
to "hound down" ministers with questions.
"It is not in the interest of the process for anyone
to be ex-tempoing answers as we go along,"
Howai had cause to delay answers to many
questions as he was unable to provide them at
the time. Officials of the ministry were in the
chamber to assist the minister.
"We will not be forced to ex-tempo answers
when there are critical questions. It is not every
piece of information you can get in 20 minutes,"
House Speaker Wade Mark, who had to call for
order several times as MPs engaged in cross talk,
then reminded the meeting that he had a specified
time to complete deliberations on the 50 heads
He said he intended to "mash his gas" to ensure
the exercise was completed in the specified time-
frame. Mark later said the initial proposal to sit
until 7 pm was not possible and the sitting would
conclude at midnight and resume at 10 am today.
The $9 billion allocation for the Finance and
Economy Minister was later approved.
Political analyst Dr Winford James says
the recent Solution by Simulation poll
confirms suspicions that the Government
was motivated to alter the Constitution
to its political advantage.
James said the results show a familiar
picture of tribal voting in safe United
National Congress (UNC) and People s
National Movement (PNM) seats.
"The matter is reduced to the marginals.
The results of the SBS poll suggest the mar-
ginals are going to be critical," James said
yesterday in response to the weekend release
of the poll.
And this is where the runoff election will
come in, he said.
"Before the poll, the Government
attempted to amend the Constitution. Now
we are seeing that if the election is called,
it is in the marginals the runoff would hap-
"The intent of the UNC is to hope that
in a runoff between the two major parties,
non-UNC and non-PNM voters would vote
for the UNC," he added.
According to the poll, the Opposition
had the edge in the marginals but runoffs
may favour the Government.
James said all the People s Partnership
(PP) would need were three marginals to
win the election. He said past election results
show when the UNC and the Congress of
the People unite, they were victorious.
Political scientist Dr Indira Rampersad,
however, said the Government had until
September 2015 to call the general election
and voters can change their minds tomor-
row, next month or in 2015.
She expressed concern over the analysis
of the results of the SBS poll and said it
would be interesting to see the methodology
used in conducting it.
"I don t know how they can predict a
runoff will favour the Government. A runoff
has not been put to the test as yet in T&T,"
She said there could never be a tie in the
election either because there were 41 seats.
Further, she said, the 34 per cent and 32
per cent for the PP and PNM respectively,
could not be referring to voters, since T&T
was not under a proportional representation
Rampersad said it was also not quite clear
in which marginals the PNM had the edge.
She said San Juan/Barataria and St Joseph
were safe UNC seats, noting it was the split
between the UNC and the ILP that led the
PNM to win the St Joseph by-election.
With the exception of Tunapuna and
San Fernando West, most of the rest of
seats on the East/West Corridor are tra-
ditionally safe PNM seats, she said.
"Tunapuna and San Fernando West were
won by the UNC when (Basdeo) Panday
was prime minister. These are the seats
that will determine the outcome of the 2015
general election," she added.
She said one thing was certain, the results
of the 2015 general election would be close.
"Whoever wins will win by one or two
seats," she said.
Asked about alliances between the UNC
and smaller parties, Rampersad said the
Movement for Social Justice, led by David
Abdulah, was not inclined to join with the
Asked by the T&T Guardian for his
response to the results of the poll, Abdulah
said he did not wish to comment.
Rampersad said the COP was in sham-
bles and what was left of it, led by Prakash
Ramadhar, was likely to remain with the
PP.The Independent Liberal Party, founded
by Jack Warner and led by former senate
vice-president Lyndira Oudit, has expressed
interest in returning to the PP, she said.
"They did say they were open to forging
an alliance with anyone," she said.
Efforts to reach the ILP were not suc-
Political analyst Dr Mukesh Basdeo said
the poll reflected what had been happening
among the electorate for much of the year;
it was evenly divided on political allegiance.
He said a two per cent lead by the Peo-
ple s Partnership was not a commanding
"It may come down to the runoffs," he
He said what was to be watched was
"Whether they will come out to vote
for the second time in a runoff. This is
signal a change in our political culture," he
Basdeo said it was still too early to make
definite predictions on the outcome of the
general election, though. He said polls were
snapshots in time and voters could change
their minds in 2015.
Kirk Waithe, head of Fixin T&T,
yesterday said runoff elections would
exacerbate the problems of exorbitant
spending by political parties on cam-
He said all parliamentarians needed
to help stop the runoff from becoming
At the same time, he said, they also
needed to ensure that legislation was
put in place to control political party
and campaign financing and procure-
ment of contracts.
"Without this intervention, well in
excess of $1 billion will be spent on
political campaigns leading up to the
next general election.
"The unfortunate prospect of runoff
elections, deceptively imposed on the
people exacerbates this already huge
problem," he said.
Analysts divided on poll results
Procurement laws will
take a year---Howai
Finance Minister Larry Howai responds to a question from the Opposition bench during yesterday's
meeting of the Standing Finance Committee at the Parliament Building, Tower D International
Waterfront, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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