Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 6th 2014 Contents Corruption... How can policy-
makers and practitioners better
comprehend the many forms
and shapes that this social
From the delivery of essential drugs, the
reduction in teacher absenteeism, the con-
tainment of illegal logging, the construction
of roads, the provision of water and electricity,
the international trade in oil and gas, the con-
duct of public budgeting and procurement
and the management of public revenues, cor-
ruption shows its many faces.
Over the course of our nation s Independ-
ence, different protagonists across the political
divide have levelled serious accusations about
corrupt practices and corruption. From the
alleged Gas Station Racket that took place in
the 1960s to the most recent accusation of
corruption levelled by the present Leader of
the Opposition regarding the Beetham Waste
Corruption is bad for development.
Leaving aside the morality of bribe taking,
influence peddling, embezzlement, and other
abuses of power for personal or other group
gain, corruption impedes investment and
growth and exacerbates poverty and inequality.
Human beings are prone to self-seeking
behaviour. What constraints individual behav-
iour and makes it conform with larger collective
ends includes the laws that form the core of
norms and institutions.
Corruption can never be completely or per-
The question is: how can it be controlled?
How can a country---in particular T&T---
move from a situation where corruption may
be the norm to a situation where corruption
is morally intolerable and behaviourally rare?
Endemic corruption cannot be controlled
with moral crusades. People, on the whole,
respond to incentives, not moral appeals.
Officeholders will not abstain from corruption
unless it no longer appears in their interests
to behave corruptly. Therefore, to control cor-
ruption, the expected benefit-cost ratio for
an individual office holder of obeying the law
must be higher than the expected benefit-
cost ratio of behaving corruptly.
In other words, public officials must perceive
a substantial risk that if they engage in corrupt
conduct they will lose their offices, forfeit ille-
gally acquired wealth and even go to prison.
Implementing such sanctions against cor-
ruption requires robust and modern legislation
which forms part of an institutional framework
to control corruption. In most countries, Par-
liament has the constitutional mandate to
both oversee government and to hold govern-
ment to account.
Often, audit institutions, ombudsman s
offices and anti-corruption agencies report to
Parliament as a means of ensuring both their
independence from government and reinforcing
Parliament s position at the apex of account-
What is government/
Government procurement---also called public
tendering or public procurement---is the pro-
curement of goods and services on behalf of
a public authority, such as a government
To prevent fraud, waste, corruption or local
protectionism, the law of most countries ought
to regulate government procurement more
closely. It usually requires the procuring author-
ity to issue public tenders if the value of the
procurement exceeds a certain threshold.
Our citizens are much more informed, out-
spoken and possess greater access to infor-
mation that ever before. They wish to live in
a period where good governance exists, where
accountability is the norm, and open trans-
parency is fully practiced. But how government
implements these principles takes a tremen-
dous amount of political will.
In order to appreciate the steps that the
Government had taken over, it is important
to appreciate what has occurred over the past
three years. This chronology will outline the
series of critical actions that has been taken
In the period 2010/2011 of the Tenth Par-
liament, a Joint Select Committee was formed
with the mandate to consider and report on
the legislative proposals to provide for public
procurement and disposal of public property,
together with the legislative proposal to repeal
and replace the Central Tenders Board Act.
However, the committee was unable to com-
plete its mandate before the prorogation of
Parliament on June 17, 2011. That committee
requested that its work be saved and referred
to any subsequent committee.
Consequently, Second Joint Select Com-
mittee appointed in the Second Session
(2011/2012) of the Tenth Parliament, pursuant
to resolutions passed in the House of Repre-
sentatives on Wednesday, November 9, 2011,
and Friday, November 18, 2011, and in the
Senate on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 and
Tuesday, November 22, 2011.
The committee s mandate was to consider
and report on the Legislative Proposal to pro-
vide for public procurement and disposal of
public property together with the legislative
proposal to repeal and replace the Central
Tenders Board Act, along with the work of
the previous committee appointed in the First
Session of the Tenth Parliament.
Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie became chairman
of the committee on December 2, 2011. During
his tenure, the committee examined the pro-
curement systems of countries that have made
notable advancement in the area of procure-
ment, for example: Finland, Canada, United
Kingdom, the Philippines, Latin America and
It is important for every citizen to follow
this historic parliamentary debate as it ushers
in a new era for T&T.
The days of making secret deals, wild accu-
sations of corruption by the Leader of the
Opposition and the award of lucrative gov-
ernmental contracts to entities that are owned
by perceived friends of the ruling party, will
be a thing of the past.
It is acknowledged that the role of the
Opposition to be the watchdog for the citizens
and ensure that the Government adheres to
the highest standards of governance and fair
play. It also seems that the whole issue of
corruption has been on their front burner for
But, it is also imperative that the Opposition
attempt to put their differences aside and
collaborate with the Government to perfect
as far as possible this critical but historic piece
of legislation, which will (hopefully) become
law, and will serve to protect and benefit the
common citizens of T&T.
Jai Leladharsingh is the assistant manager;
workforce development and business
process with the Coosals Group of Com-
panies. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; Jaishi-
APRIL 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | SBG19
Stemming the practice of corruption
through procurement legislation
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