Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 17th 2014 Contents A5
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
After a long, drawn-out ten-year process
the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public
Property Bill was passed in the Senate yes-
terday by a special three-fifths majority.
It was passed after 24 members, including
15 Government and all nine Independent Sen-
ators, voted in favour of it.
The Opposition had debated vociferously
against the bill and the six PNM Senators pres-
ent yesterday abstained from voting.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and
deputy political leader Marlene McDonald were
not present in the Upper House at the time.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate
Ganga Singh described the passing of the bill
The Opposition s main contention was that
the Government deliberately delayed the passage
of the bill over the last four-and-a-half years
to conduct certain procurement activities.
It argued that the Bill was brought for passage
at this time only to gain political mileage for
the 2015 general election.
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, who
piloted the bill, gave a rousing summary before
it was passed.
He focused on countering Opposition Senator
Faris Al-Rawi s earlier presentation.
Tewarie said he did not need to respond to
Al-Rawi s charge that the Government was
misinterpreting the Opposition s position
"because the population is an intelligent pop-
ulation and knows who is skinning teeth and
being deceptive and who is telling the truth."
He said Al-Rawi, like Rowley, sought to turn
the procurement debate into a debate on Invad-
er s Bay and insinuate there was some kind of
malpractice in the billion-dollar state project.
He refuted the Opposition s argument that
the Central Tenders Board (CTB) rules were
bypassed in the award of contracts for the proj-
He said the CTB Act in relation to procure-
ment applies to government quarters and not
land and that the Commissioner of State Land
dealt with all land matters.
Tewarie said there was no subterfuge in the
delay in the passage of procurement legisla-
The bill lapsed because the PNM raised three
main issues and the Government wanted to
give them a hearing.
Tewarie also countered the Opposition s argu-
ment that the Government did not allow the
President to proclaim the bill by absolute dis-
He said the Constitution provided for exec-
utive power but the President was not an exec-
Charging that the Opposition really did not
want procurement legislation, Tewarie said it
was true it brought a white paper on it in 2005
and legislation in 2006.
He admitted it was that legislation that went
before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament
which presented the report that led to the pres-
ent bill. However, at no time during its tenure
did the PNM ever bring procurement legislation
to Parliament for debate, he added.
"All they did was galay and galay and galay,"
the minister said, slipping into the colloquial.
Praising the Government, he said: "You could
call it a box drain government if you want, but
people in rural areas you put in the bamboo
see the benefit of box drains."
Tewarie said the Government also did more
projects in the urban PNM stronghold of East
Port-of-Spain in three years than the PNM did
in 20 years.
"And if you only stretch me, I have the list
and I will read it out," he said, to laughter from
Charging the PNM was self righteous and
came to Parliament playing holier than thou,
Tewarie attempted to disclose details of the
Broadgate project scandal under the PNM
However, he was quickly opposed by the
Opposition on the grounds the matter was sub-
Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith
agreed and Tewarie was silenced.
He vowed the Government was going to be
in power for the next five years "and not because
I say so but because the people are watching
and listening and talking and also looking at
what you (the PNM) are and making judg-
"The country has been brought to a good
place in four-and-half years," he said.
Government s cost-cutting meas-
ures should include removing the
Prime Minister s picture from various
items, including billboards, mugs, pic-
tures, cards and vouchers. PNM Sen-
ator Faris Al-Rawi said so yesterday.
He did so during Senate debate on
Government s Procurement Bill, slam-
ming the PM on various issues.
Al-Rawi said there were billboards
all over T&T with pictures of the Prime
Minister and there were government
giveaways daily, including mugs and
other items, with a picture of the PM
on them also.
"I would suggest in the austerity cuts,
we can do without pictures of the Prime
Minister on pictures and everything
else," he added.
Al-Rawi also said he was "advised"
(without giving the source) that it cost
Government $33 million to bring for-
ward the completion date for the Gol-
conda section of the Point Fortin High-
way in time for Divali as the PM had
wanted. He asked if chairman of the
National Infrastructure Development
Company of T&T (Nidco) Dr Carson
Charles or the Prime Minister would
be called to account for the alleged $33
He also said the "Prime Minister had
the gall to claim paternity---"maternity
or authorship"---of the Parliament s
new Standing Orders.
He said former House Speaker Barry
Sinanan and PNM s Camille Robinson-
Regis had drafted that and "so Madame
Prime Minister, have the intellectual
honesty to admit where this comes
He said the PNM had concerns on
the bill, including its funding, opera-
tionalisation and lack of regulations to
He said the PNM also wanted dis-
posal of property to be clarified and
factored into the bill and wanted the
proposed procurement regulator to be
independent and insulated from Gov-
Al-Rawi discounted arguments by
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie on
PNM s non-co-operation on the bill.
He said the PNM had always felt it
was law in the right direction and PNM
leader Keith Rowley had instructed his
senators to vote for the bill.
Members of the Lara Brothers parang
group perform at the 36th annual
Paramin Parang Festival at La Finette
Grounds, in the hills of Paramin, on
Monday night. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Opposition Senators abstain
Procurement Bill finally passed
Civil Society Group responds
Chairman of the Private Sector, Civil
Society Group on Public Procurement,
Winston Riley welcomed the passage of
the bill, which he said had been a long time
He added: "First we have to give credit
to Minister Tewarie and the Independent
Senators who were the driving force in
getting this legislation passed.
"The legislation is far more rigorous than
anything that went before and we are
generally happy with it in its present form."
He said the most important issue now
was the operation of the legislation and he
called on the President to provide his
assent to it, which he said would be a
Christmas gift to the population.
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