The February 9, 2019 edition of the Guyana Chronicle details comments of the Deputy Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board, (NPTAB), Mark Bender, in an article headlined ‘Hike in tendering thresholds legit’.
Editor, I wish to proffer the view that Mr. Bender was either under pressure to publicly justify the illegal increase in the threshold for spending of taxpayers’ monies via restricted tendering or he is complicit in the wrong doings.
First, insisting that Section 61 of the Procurement Act makes the action legal, Mr. Bender, according to the Guyana Chronicle article, says that other sections of the Act are “irrelevant” to the issue at hand. However, the fact is that the only section of the Procurement Act that deals with specifically with increasing thresholds, as was done by the Finance Minister, is Section 54.
Section 54 of the Procurement Act says, “(1) The Cabinet shall have the right to review all procurements the value of which exceeds fifteen million Guyana dollars. The Cabinet shall conduct its review on the basis of a streamlined tender evaluation report to be adopted by the authority mentioned in section 17 (2). The Cabinet and, upon its establishment, the Public Procurement Commission, shall review annually the Cabinet’s threshold for review of procurements, with the objective of increasing that threshold over time so as to promote the goal of progressively phasing out Cabinet involvement and decentralising the procurement process.”
The fact that the Public Procurement Commission has been established and is functioning cannot be ignored. Mr. Bender has some explaining to do about this, as well as about the billions of taxpayers’ monies that were illegally spent after December 21, 2018 when the Coalition Government fell.
Secondly, the February 9, 2019 edition of the Kaieteur News article under the headline ‘PPP had also illegally raised tendering threshold -Cabinet documents indicate’ published a Cabinet document dated November 11, 2014 – the date being during the period that Parliament was prorogued by the former PPP/C government.
Two points can be made here, 1) Cabinet was vested with the authority to change the thresholds as requested, according to the Cabinet document Kaieteur News refers to, since there was no Public Procurement Commission in place at the time; and 2) there was a legal Cabinet in place, in spite of the prorogation of Parliament, unlike the situation we have now.
The situation now is one where after the December 21, 2018 vote on the no-confidence motion the APNU+AFC Coalition Government stood resigned. I only have to refer to the ruling of the Chief Justice to substantiate this point.
Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire, in her ruling on January 31, 2019, said clearly, “I therefore find that Cabinet is not required to resign with all convenient speed, as the resignation under Article 106 (6), in my view, takes immediate effect following the defect of the Government in a vote of confidence by a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly.
“In this case, Cabinet must be taken to have resigned with immediate effect from the evening of December 21, 2018, and all functions or duties provided in any law to be performed specifically by Cabinet must have ceased from that time.”
Editor, the Guyanese must not be made to suffer through another illegal act. It is time that the APNU+AFC Coalition Government understands that enough is enough. There can be no more wastage of taxpayers’ monies.
Ibrahim Bin Jabbar
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