Thursday 20 February, 2020

T&T Chamber renews call for implementation of procurement legislation

Pictured: Finance Minister Colm Imbert. Photo via The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

Pictured: Finance Minister Colm Imbert. Photo via The Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) is again appealing to the Government to operationalise the substantive provisions of The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act. 

The T&T Chamber in a statement called for the immediate proclamation of Section 24 - (1), 2 except (f), (3) (4) and (5) as it reminded Finance Minister Colm Imbert of the commitment given in his 2020 Budget Statement that the new procurement arrangements would be fully implemented this year.

The chamber, which has long advocated for the implementation of the procurement legislation also questioned why Government was moving to make amendments to Section 7 of the Act, when this was not the recommendation from the Office of the Procurement Regulator.

“We also note that the Minister of Finance in his 2020 National Budget presentation delivered on 7th of  October 2019,  stated “Further, we have received recommendations from the Regulator regarding the appropriate treatment of public-private-partnerships and Government-to-Government arrangements, which we intend to adopt” (Ref: Page 8, Budget Statement 2020). 

We understand the Office of the Procurement Regulator (OPR) recommended that there should be no amendments to section 7, so what is being suggested now is contrary to those recommendations.”

The T&T Chamber stressed the importance of honouring the repeated commitments to have the Act fully implemented to address the procurement inefficiencies and wastage of public funding.

In pressing for the urgent operationalisation of the legislation, it said current procurement regulations must ensure that Government expenditure be made with the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago in mind.

Recognising that government-to-government arrangements may provide the benefit of preferential offers like economic and technical assistance, the T&T Chamber recommended that the total cost of ownership must be captured in evaluating any purchase decision.

“As an example, while purchasing equipment with terms of 20 years financing at two percent may appear favourable, if the purchase price of the equipment is 50 percent more than another supplier who is offering a 10-year term at three percent the analysis must take into account all the factors to ensure that the best decision is made for the country. This can only be done through open and competitive tender, not sole selective as being suggested in the “slight” amendment under section 7 of the Act.”

The T&T Chamber added that certain parts of Section 24 can be proclaimed to enact regulations allowing the Regulator of the Office of the Procurement Regulation (OPR) to report to Parliament.

In this regard, the chamber declared its support for the immediate proclamation of Section 24 - (1), 2 except (f), (3) (4) and (5).

The T&T Chamber said the OPR should report on these parts of Section 24 so parliament may be apprised on the status of the OPR on the question on implementation and regulations and what may be holding up the process. 

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