Afra Raymond was interviewed on Power Breakfast Show on Power 102.1 FM with Richard Ragoobarsingh and Wendell Clement on the delays in implementing the new Public Procurement system in Trinidad and Tobago.
Programme Date: Thursday 30th January 2020 Programme Length: 00:22:21
“…As Minister of Finance I was very much concerned with the decision to introduce a Central Tenders Board and take away the power to award tenders from elected representatives of local government bodies who enjoyed the privilege under existing legislation. That unsound arrangement, bad in principle, was further vitiated by the tendency of local government councillors not to award tenders to the lowest bidder….”
— Dr. Eric Williams, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister. (London: André Deutsch, 1969), 250.
This week I juxtapose the delays in implementing the Public Procurement system and the intended amendments declared by Finance Minister Imbert, against the history, so that the wider issue can be understood. Minister Imbert is no outlier, he can be located as the current manifestation of the PNM’s deep and historic unease with modern arrangements for Accountability.
The establishment of the Central Tenders Board in 1961 was a high-water mark set by the first PNM administration in the ongoing struggle to ensure ‘morality in Public Affairs’. Since that 1961 Act, which took five years to implement, there has been a push against those legal provisions by successive PNM administrations, uneven and not always successful, but always in the same dismantling direction.
PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION IN PUBLIC WORKS AND PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND CONTRACTING
“…:29. Promoting the inclusion of anti-corruption clauses in all state and public-private-partnership contracts…”
— From the Lima Commitment ‘Democratic Governance against Corruption’ made at the Eighth Summit of the Americas in April 2018, to which Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory.
Finance Minister Imbert responded at the post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, 16 January 2020 to the pointed questions raised by the media on the unexplained delays in implementing the new Public Procurement system. The Minister’s stated that he had only received a final position from the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) on 18 December 2019, which was too late to take action, given that Parliament had its last sitting for 2019 on 16 December. Continue reading “Public Procurement Delays, part three”→
This continues my series — Part 1 and Part 2 — on the unexplained and unacceptable delays in implementing the new Public Procurement system. Those delays arise from the failure or refusal of the Finance Minister to settle the Regulations which are essential for the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) to be fully operationalised.
As far as I know, there has been no response from Finance Minister Imbert to the points raised in the previous article. Of course, no response is required, but given the importance of the issue and the highly engaged communication style of that Minister, I certainly had cause for a pause.
This article will continue last week’s examination of the delays, but first, some background. The new Public Procurement system replaces the Central Tenders Board, so it is useful to note that although the CTB Act is a 1961 law, the first Board was not sworn-in until 1966 – a full five years after the law. Note well, too, that this was at a period when the CTB Act had the full support of the first PNM administration of Dr Eric Williams and the opposition forces were then a mere shadow of their current selves.
Given that background, what can we make of these delays in getting the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) up and running? Firstly, even though The Act is No. 1 of 2015, the first OPR Board was appointed two years ago, in January 2018, under the Chairmanship of Moonilal Lalchan.
This article will appear on New Year’s Day – 1 January 2020 – and it is a direct criticism of the Trinidad & Tobago government’s unexplained delays in the full implementation of the new Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act (the Act). In my view those delays are unacceptable and a serious cause for public concern.
On 23 November 2018, the Finance and Legal Affairs Joint Select Committee of Parliament, took evidence on the matter of The Implementation of the New Public Procurement System.
That JSC, under the Chairmanship of Independent Senator, Sophia Chote SC, heard from the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) and the Ministries of Finance and Public Administration. That JSC Report of 6 May 2019 gives a detailed and encouraging account of the steps being taken to bring this law into full effect. Sad to say, but at page 23 of that Report we are told that – Continue reading “Public Procurement Delays”→
This article uses the threads I have been exploring in relation to the two large-scale Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Tobago to discuss the risks which are likely to arise quite soon in that arena.
The case will be made in three parts – the existing two PPPs, with a note on the Tobago Sandals MoU fiasco; the emerging arrangements for new PPPs in Tobago and the perils arising from the failure or refusal to examine the failed PPPs.
Magdalena Grand (formerly Tobago Hilton)
This 198-room hotel was built in 2000 on the Tobago Plantations estate by Vanguard Holdings, which comprised Guardian Holdings, Angostura Ltd and the T&T State via e Teck, with Hilton International having a minor shareholding. The project was financed with a $16.75M USD bond from Citicorp and was soon in difficulty, as in 2008 the State had to bail-out the private shareholders and commit large sums of Public Money to repair the buildings, which were by then badly-damaged by sea-blast. Continue reading “Property Matters – Tobago Love”→
Afra Raymond made a presentation at the 4th Caribbean International Tourism Conference at UWI’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados on Trinidad & Tobago’s State-owned hotels to outline the results and provisional conclusions of his research examining the existing State-owned hotels as a way of understanding the real prospects for the large-scale Tobago Sandals proposed by the incumbent government in 2015.