Afra Raymond was interviewed by Natalee Legore for the Media Institute of the Caribbean on the COVID-19 pandemic and Public Procurement rules, and the impact of the delays and amendments to the law. Audio courtesy Media Institute of the Caribbean.
These unacceptable delays in the proclamation of our Public Procurement law have all the ingredients of a Constitutional Imbroglio. Yes, that’s right, in amongst the protestations about Separation of Powers, we are witness to congosah and condescending Public Officials shafting the Public Interest.
When one speaks of Separation of Powers, the role and responsibilities of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are considered. Of course, the separation is not a perfect one, since there are areas of overlap in how these bodies operate. For instance, the Executive proposes annual funding for the Judiciary after consultation. That funding is only accessible after the national budget is approved by the Legislature, which then allows the allocated money to go to the Judiciary.
In the case of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act, the law was passed over 7 years ago in January 2015, during the PP administration. The PNM administration then amended the Act three times before the Regulations were agreed with the OPR and approved by the Parliament seven months ago, in January 2022. Those stages are further examples of overlap and they were all lawful. The last stage was legal and necessary, since the Ministry of Finance had to agree the Regulations with the OPR, before tabling those in Parliament for approval.
So what is this ongoing delay, now that all the legal and necessary steps have been taken?
Afra Raymond joins a panel on The Pandemic Economy, the pre-budget show on TV6 Television in Trinidad and Tobago, where he and the other speakers discuss the local construction industry and the public debt to it, public procurement along with the soon-to-be-implemented updated Property Tax regime. Video courtesy CCN TV6
The AG’s Press Conference of Monday 21st December 2020 was an attempt to control the government’s critics, while also promoting the notion that the issues arising from the amendment of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act (The Act) are poorly understood by everyone outside the Cabinet. The AG strongly criticised both me and Opposition spokesman, Senator Wade Mark. This had me wondering at both my company and the AG’s opening declaration that what was needed was ‘a studied analysis which is factual and truthful’. Well I tell you.
This article will place in context the recent, damaging changes and rebut those extremely misleading claims.
My essential point is that full implementation of The Act, unduly delayed, is now seriously compromised by the latest amendments. These changes comprise serious exclusions which now place our patrimony in far greater risk.
I will outline the main points so that readers can decide on the validity of the AG’s criticisms. After all, a studied analysis which is factual and truthful is sometimes the only way to make-out fabricators and the existential threat such people pose to our development.
Afra Raymond is interviewed by Kiel Taklalsingh and Stefan Ramkissoon on The Section One show on TV Jaagriti on Sunday, 13 December 2020 on the amendments to the Public Procurement law. Video courtesy TV Jaagriti
The previous article explained that our Parliament reduced independent oversight of the biggest contracts in our country. But all the power is not in Parliament, so it is important to note that civil society has substantial power and influence in these public policy matters.
Those of us committed to those rights to information took up the challenge by alerting the public to the perils, led by the Media Association of T&T (MATT) under Dr. Sheila Rampersad’s direction. Our brief, intense campaign culminated in MATT’s overflowing seminar on Saturday 15th June 2019 at Hotel Normandie, with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. SC being the powerful and persuasive lead speaker.
The AG withdrew the proposals ‘for further consultation’ and no more was heard on that count. This demonstrates that it is possible, by concerted, focused and informed agitation, to stop detrimental public policies.
Our history is replete with these important lessons. It is important to understand how these changes arise.
On Friday 4 December 2020 our Parliament passed the third set of amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act (The Act). These changes are a serious blow to the long-term campaign for proper control over transactions in Public Money and are extremely detrimental to the public interest. Government to Government Arrangements (G2G), Public Private Partnerships and a range of professional/financial services have been excluded from the oversight of the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR).
Our elected representatives proposed to our Parliament that the biggest contracts executed with Public Money were better administered without independent oversight as intended in The Act, passed as Act No 1 of 2015.
Afra Raymond appears on WESN’s current affairs programme “Long Story Short” on Saturday 5th December 2020 for an interview with Kejan Haynes on to discuss the contentious amendments to the Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Property Act of Trinidad and Tobago. Video courtesy WESN
Afra Raymond’s interview on TV6 on The Morning Edition with Fazeer Mohammed on the amendments to the Public Procurement & Disposal of Public Property Act in Trinidad and Tobago. Video courtesy CCN TV6
The Amendments to the Procurement Legislation were passed in the lower House on Friday without the support of the Opposition United National Congress, and will e debated in the Upper House today. Prior to the debate, various Civil Society Groups and Business organizations have voiced concerns regarding particular elements to the amendments. We got another view in, Afra Raymond- Past President of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry.