‘…Doublethink is the ability to hold two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time and to believe they are both true…’
—from George Orwell’s ‘1984’
“…Rowley said the new “slang” was that his Government was one of secrecy. He said he fully agreed that the public had a right to know, but if one is conducting business, information develops in stages. He said the Government was hiding nothing about the Sandals deal…”
—Reported speech of PM Dr. Keith Rowley from ‘Rowley: Petrotrin figures not the issue‘ in the Trinidad Express on 20th September 2018
The previous article, together with my presentation at the pre-budget seminar hosted by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry & Commerce on Monday 17th September 2018, sparked a series of responses. More information is clearly needed to clear up what I call ‘carefully crafted confusion‘. That phrase emerged during the Invaders’ Bay imbroglio while the Peoples Partnership was in office.
The official practice in our country is to withhold details of important public agreements and contracts. That is now the standard, in which if those are ever disclosed it is only when the contracts have been signed and sealed. Those opaque practices are not limited to the current PNM administration. Last week I closed with a list of examples which span both political parties.
This article explains how opacity in public contracts is inimical to the public good since it inhibits good procurement outcomes and deprives the public of necessary details at a high-tide mark in the Global Information Age. Sad to say, it all comes down to notions of trust, since the previous conduct of our rulers has been so poor that public trust is at an all-time low. Continue reading “OPEN CONTRACTING? Part Two”→
Our country is now at a state of flux insofar as the next stages of our development, which is largely dependent on the relationships between our leaders and us as citizens. This is a serious moment in the development of our Republic, so this is forming a key part of my Season of Reflection.
The long oil/gas boom we enjoyed is drawing to a close, so we are now therefore forced to really deal with hard diversification questions to maintain the viability of our society.
We have never before had such an educated population. Our country has more persons with degrees and professional qualifications than ever before – doctors, engineers, lawyers, IT specialists, accountants and finance professionals, lawyers, surveyors and teachers. We therefore have a citizenry which is capable of playing a huge role in the inescapable task of turning the corner into a new series of options for our society. Continue reading “Open Contracting?”→
Afra Raymond was the guest speaker of the Guyana Press Association at its Mid-Day Lecture on Thursday 3 May 2018, at Moray House in Georgetown, Guyana on World Press Freedom Day. He spoke on the theme, “Keeping Power in Check: Media Justice and the Rule of Law.” Video courtesy Guyana Press Association.
Programme Date: 3 May 2018 Programme length: 00:40:00 and 00:19:53
This is the interview with Fazeer Mohammed on the Morning Edition programme on TV6 where he and Reggie Dumas discuss their open letter to President Carmona on the appointment of Board of the Office of Procurement Regulation.( See letter below.) Video courtesy TV6
Programme Date: 18 December 2017 Programme Length: 00:03:39 and 00:22:30
Our Open Letter to President Carmona is here for your attention –
The large-scale waste and theft of Public Money remains one of the most serious concerns for our country and the full implementation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act is therefore a matter of very high priority. That implementation should be done in a manner which fosters confidence and sets the table for a new era of proper dealings in the conduct of our nation’s public affairs.
We are encouraged by the 2nd November 2017 Press Releases from the Office of the President and the Ministry of Finance, both stating that the appointment of the Board for the Office of Procurement Regulation is anticipated to be made by the end of this month, December 2017.
As a matter of best practice in these most crucial appointments, the public should be apprised of the details of the selection process. This is simply not a matter we can afford to have go awry, since there is such a dire need for transactions using our increasingly limited Public Money to be properly supervised.
As a parallel example, we would offer for adoption the 39th recommendation of the Uff Report:
“The reviewing of tenders and the making of decisions upon the award of contracts should be undertaken in as transparent a manner as possible, including demonstrating clear compliance with procurement rules, so as to allay suspicion of improper actions or potential corrupt influences.”
The point is that contracts, particularly large-scale, shou ld not be awarded without elementary transparency so that the public can be assured of straight dealings. The appointment of the Procurement Regulator will be one of the most critical contract awards in the history of our Republic, albeit an employment contract.
We are therefore requesting, in the public interest, that the following details be published before the appointments are made:
the selection process being used;
the identity of the firm or personnel implementing that process;
the identity of the shortlisted applicants.
We anticipate an early and positive reply in the collective interest of instilling and maintaining a high degree of public confidence in the processes involved in this critical matter.
I am writing this article on Friday 13th October 2017, which is the first time T&T has had a national holiday to honour the memory of our First Peoples.
These holidays are important, not only in the literal sense of having a day-off, but also marking certain critical events so that the collective memory could be preserved. That process of intentionally preserving important memories is seminal to the development of a civilisation. This extends to our business and professional life, even being decisive for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Our official record is so often vacant, by design, that one can scarcely assess the real situation or reliably make projections as to the likely outcomes of proposals. The Public Sector is a huge part of the national business, so it is critical how that sector conducts itself and how its ‘lessons learned’ are recorded. Ours is a sorry story of the public sector conducting itself outside the bounds of the law and good sense, not to mention actively suppressing or distorting reality. Continue reading “The Importance of Memory”→