Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 28th 2014 Contents SBG6 2014 YEAR IN REVIEW
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 28 • 2014
The Public Procurement and Disposal of
Public Property Bill was finally passed
in the Senate in Parliament on Decem-
ber 16. The passage of the legislation
by both house of T&T s Parliament
comes after years of lobbying by dif-
ferent business and civil society groups
who argued that modern legislation is
needed to combat T&T s long history of corruption, bureau-
cracy and nepotism.
Winston Riley, chairman of the Private Sector Civil Society
Group (PSCS) on Public Procurement Reform, was one of
the main individuals pushing for an acceptable version of
the bill to be passed.
When the bill was passed, Riley welcomed the passage
of the bill, which he said had been a long time in coming.
"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."
Riley added that the passage of the bill would not bring
an end to the group s vigilance on the issue of procurement.
He said they wanted to ask the President Anthony Car-
mona to give the country a Christmas or New Year s gift
by assenting to the bill expeditiously.
On December 16, the Public Procurement and Disposal
of Public Property (No 2) Bill, 2014 was passed with 24
votes as the Government and Independent benches supported
it at the Senate sitting, at Tower D, International Waterfront
The six PNM senators in the chamber at the time abstained
In April, Riley told the Business Guardian that the version
of the bill at that time was unacceptable and it should be
"You can burn the bill as it is a waste of time. There are
loans from the international lending agencies for the pro-
curement of goods, works and/or services that are outside
of the remit of the Procurement Bill. We know that over
50 per cent of procurement for goods, works and services
in our region is outside regulations.
"With our approach of government to government con-
tracts it is about 70 per cent in T&T. So what are you having
the Procurement Bill for? We are wasting time."
One of Riley s main concerns was Clause 7 of the bill.
"The biggest issue with the bill is that there was an
exception clause, 7 (2), which allows all relationships between
our Government and another government---and also any
relationship our government has with financial institu-
tions---not to be subject to the bill," he had told the media
at a media conference in May of this year.
A statement from the Congress of the People (COP) after
the bill was passed said this legislation repeals the 53 year-
old Central Tenders Board (CTB) Ordinance.
"This procurement legislation modernises our system of
public procurement and, with it, we take a huge step in
cementing the important principles and values of account-
ability, transparency, integrity and value for money into our
public management and governance."
The Opposition s main contention was that the Govern-
ment deliberately delayed the passage of the bill over the
last four and a half years to conduct certain procurement
Members of the Opposition argued that the bill was
brought for passage at this time only to gain political mileage
for the 2015 general election.
However, during The Prime Minister s contribution to
the Public Procurement Bill in early December, she pointed
out that her Government kept its 2010 Manifesto promise
to bring procurement legislation to the Parliament.
Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie, who piloted Bill, during
its passing said it was good for the citizens of T&T.
"We present before this House, a good bill that is a historic
bill in this country and I ask every member of the Senate,
as a citizen of T&T and as a person who cares about T&T,
about transparency, accountability, value for money, who
wants to stop corruption and who is committed to good
governance in this country, I ask that all honourable Senators,
of that mind, vote for this bill."
Afra Raymond, president of the Joint Consultative Asso-
ciation (JCC), repeatedly called the bill the most important
legislation in the country after the constitution.
Raymond said that since 2002-2003 interested groups
had been lobbying for the law. He said the law is intended
to have modern and effective controls over public money.
He said the lobby started with a group of four organisations:
the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry;
the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce; the T&T
Manufacturers Association (TTMA) and the T&T Trans-
After the reading of the national budget in September of
this year, Raymond said if the Government wants to help
the poor and under privileged in the country it should pass
and implement the bill.
"If you want to do something for under-privileged people
and you want to do something for the single mothers and
you want to do something for the younger generation stop
the waste and the theft and put the procurement law now,
simple," Raymond said.
He said the new legislation would have openness in how
the tenders are assessed and awarded, so there would be
a place where you would be able to look and see who got
a particular tender, and how much money was spent. He
said the most important point for the small enterprises
would be the issue of getting redress and justice if they did
not have the money and big lawyers to bring a big case to
stop somebody doing something wrong, or to make sure
the right thing was done.
Raymond said the new legislation would include stream-
lined, inexpensive methods so that a small person of no
particular weight, could make a complaint and there would
be a procedure to have the complaint swiftly investigated,
and action taken. "You don t have to have a lawyer to make
a complaint. You don t have to have a lawyer to make your
point." However, he said if a complaint is made based on
mischief there are also penalties for that.
In a statement two weeks ago, the TTMA said it was sat-
isfied that the public procurement legislation has been
passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"This is a step that the TTMA considers to be in line
with the best interests for our country s present and future
development and sustainability," the TTMA said in a state-
The trade group said this step "offers the hope that a
new level of commitment will be demonstrated by our law
and policy makers to implement a procurement framework
that is transparent and lends itself to true accountability
in the use of all our country s valuable resources."
...with the passing of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill
Summary of the bill
The bill seeks to reform the procurement laws of T&T
by making provisions or the following in keeping with the
principles of good governance, account ability and value
1. Public procurement
2. The retention and disposal of public property
3. The establishment of the Office of Procurement Reg-
4. The repeal of the Central Tenders Board Act and re-
Chairman of the Private Sector Civil Society Group
President of the Joint Consultative Association
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