Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 23rd 2016 Contents JUNE 23 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
T&T has come a long way in
how it treats with transparency
and also with the evolution of
the Public Procurement Bill,
says the Inter American Bank's
(IDB) procurement specialist,
Shirley Gayle Sinclair.
"We are very optimistic, based on what we
have seen, that the Public Procurement Bill
will make it way through the different levels
of the Parliament and be proclaimed. That is
a major step in reforming the practice of public
procurement in the country," she told the
Guardian last Thursday at IDB's office, St Clair.
Speaking about procurement on IDB-funded
projects, she said that it is "very strong."
"The IDB maintains monitoring and super-
visory roles in respect of all the projects and
in particular the procurement processes. So
let us say a government ministry is executing
the project, they would execute the tendering
process, but the IDB is in the picture as the
ministry always has to be reporting to us. We
review the project and we give what we call
a 'non-objection' to what they have done,
which means the IDB is happy with what it
has seen and the project can go to the next
This comes as Prime Minister Dr Keith Row-
ley has said that the IDB has committed to
providing the Government with funding for
the construction of a highway from Valencia
Rowley said while he was in Washington
DC, he met with the IDB's president Luis
Alberto Moreno who committed to funding
projects in T&T.
The Prime Minister said unlike the contro-
versial extension of the Solomon Hochoy High-
way to Point Fortin---which was started without
appropriate funding and resulted in a number
of difficulties---when this Government breaks
ground on the Valencia to Toco highway and
the construction of a ferry port in Toco with
a ferry service in Tobago, appropriate funding
will be in place from the IDB.
Sinclair also said the IDB's procedures will
reduce waste, corruption and other inefficien-
cies in the government projects that they fund.
"We have what we call a fiduciary function'
at the IDB. This consists of procurement and
financial management and so we maintain that
fiduciary supervision and the whole point of
the fiduciary function is to protect the funds
that we loan and to ensure that the funds are
used for the intentions and purposes that was
agreed under the loan."
She said if the IDB funds a construction
project there will be supervision to make sure
that "value for money" is obtained.
"The physical structures of the project must
conform to standards. But also there must be
fiduciary supervision in terms of watching over
the procurement process and financial super-
vision in terms of the spending of the funds.
The presence of the IDB has actually gone a
long way in the all the countries that we work
in the Caribbean in encouraging the govern-
ments to reform their own procurement sys-
When asked if the IDB's procurement policies
will prevent the Government from wasting
money on white elephant projects, she said
this is exactly what the IDB wants to prevent.
"Corruption is when the funds were intended
for a particular purpose and they were diverted
clandestinely for other uses. The IDB puts sys-
tems in place to protect the integrity of the
resources," she said.
Sinclair added the IDB will be taking a
"trade-fair" approach at the T&T Manufac-
turers' Association's (TTMA) Trade and Invest-
ment Convention (TIC) in July where they will
have a public procurement booth.
"As you know the Government buys a whole
myriad of goods and services. We want to bring
together suppliers of goods and services and
put them in a place where they can interact
with the buyers in our project-executing agen-
cies. The suppliers will have the opportunity
to showcase their offerings. The executing
agencies will have the opportunity to meet
new suppliers and to showcase their projects,"
She said the IDB has done this before but
their procurement booth at the Trade and
Investment Convention (TIC) this year is a
"In the past we have had our Doing Business
with the IDB Seminar that was a regular session
and the general business community, trade
missions in embassies were invited. We brought
them in and showed them IDB's policies, we
showed what tools we had and procurement
policies. We also showed them the do's and
don't of tendering in the IDB," she said.
She said the TTMA has also given the IDB
tips on what companies would want to learn
at their booth.
"They said it would be useful to give pre-
sentations on how the companies could give
proposals, how to work with the standardised
IDB document. The feedback they have is some
people are not acquainted with the process."
She added that the IDB would be presenting
an electronic platform that it supports across
Latin America and the Caribbean.
"We are trying to build this recognition in
the region of the Connect Americas platform.
The specialists from Washington who support
that programme will be in T&T to speak about
it. It is actually a good business-to-business
platform. I am sure a lot of the business people
will be interested. This is a way of marketing
their businesses outside of the region and in
The IDB is partnering with the TTMA to
put on a procurement fair during TIC in July.
She said this will bring together the business
community and various suppliers like con-
struction works, manufacturers of goods, con-
sulting firms as well as individuals.
She also wants the public to come to the
booth on the final day when TIC is opened to
"This is an opportunity for the general public
to come in and to get to learn about the work
that the IDB is doing in T&T in partnership
with the Government. I think that to a sig-
nificant extent people are not aware of what
the IDB is doing. We are doing a lot of projects
which will be transformational for the country,"
She said the IDB has opened registration for
possible participants at the TIC and the
response so far has been "moderate."
"We are hoping that the interest increases
and many people do come out and learn what
we are doing. We would be happy if we see
SHIRLEY GAYLE SINCLAIR
PHOTO: MARCUS GONSALVES
Young explained: "My only recourse then is to the Govern-
ment. I don't have recourse from the person I bought the
invoice from unless they represented something that was not
100 per cent true and correct."
In such a case, he said, it may end up in litigation to recover
the money paid to the contractor who "did not disclose some-
thing to us that was very material or adverse."
Young said invoice factoring is not new, but many financial
institutions don't want to take the risk and may only do it
for customers they know.
"We clearly are prepared to take the risk. When it's someone
we don't know, we are well connected so we make some calls.
But our offers are typically subject to final board approval;
that is another layer of due diligence."
Young said the only risk involved to NCBGF is the Gov-
ernment "but we are very comfortable with this risk. We have
a very favourable international credit rating of A-minus."
He said while contractors had indicated that five years ago
a government contract was as good as gold, some feel it's not
the same today.
Young is very comfortable with the government credit risk.
The onus, he said, is for contractors to ensure their contracts
are above board and subject to scrutiny.
"The bottom line is that the contractors who are waiting
for their money must be paid. If these people don't get paid,
their staff don't get paid. They default on loans and mortgages,
then the banks have non-performing loans and there is a big
Economist on buyout:
Economist Indera Sagewan Alli told the GML Enterprise
Desk that the offer is an "absolute win for the financial insti-
tution buying the debt, given that there are currently very few
investment opportunities and the liquidity in the system."
In addition, she said, "a debt owed by the government is
a secure debt; it is a safe debt."
But, she added, contractors would have to "weigh whether
their immediate need for cash flow justifies them giving up
the difference. They will weigh that on the debt owed to the
bank and if the discounted cash can put them in a better posi-
tion. For the contractor, it really is about survivability."
She said contractors willingness to accept the offer "depends
on how desperate they are for cash to meet their debt obli-
Sagewan Alli said some contractors "with deeper pockets"
may want to wait but, she said, it is clear that the Government
has a cash flow problem hence the decision to dip into the
Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, so that in the pecking order
payment to contractors may not be a priority."
Even if the financial institution has to wait for the money
from the Government, she said: "They are not losing. They
would have done their due diligence and determined that they
can wait, because they will get the money eventually."
Economist: It's all about survival
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