Nov 24, 2021 News
— says PPP has returned to pre-2015 ways
Kaieteur News – Former Chairman and Opposition Member of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), David Patterson says he is not holding his breath on the promise to have Public Procurement Commission (PPC) reconstituted given the lax position of the People Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration with regard to putting the commission back in place.
The PPC has the vital role of overseeing contract approvals and mediating contractor complaints. However, since the life of the five-member commission ended in October of 2020, efforts to have a new commission have been lagging.
Speaking at a virtual press conference held by the Alliance for Change (AFC) yesterday, Patterson, an executive member of the AFC expressed the view that the PPP/C Government may be actually opposed to having the PPC reconstituted. He posited that the PPP/C has instead returned to their pre-2015 ways.
“I am not hopeful because as you can see by what is going on now that the PPP/C doesn’t see this as a priority; they have actually been returning to their pre-2015 position, where they claimed the Public Procurement Commission was unconstitutional and it takes away the power from cabinet to make decisions,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, the PAC Opposition Member said that the efforts by the committee to have the oversight body back in place have been stymied by the lack of engagement on the part of Government‘s Chief Whip and PAC representative, Gail Teixeira.
According to Patterson, several meetings, which were scheduled by PAC Chair, Jermaine Figueira to discuss matters relating to the short listing of candidates to sit on the new PPC board, have been cancelled.
Explaining the process, Patterson noted the PAC Chair has been waiting to meet with Teixeira towards finalizing a short list of names, which will be presented to members of the National Assembly for approval.
“Since the names which were cleared by police and we have resumed from the parliamentary recess, the [APNU+AFC] opposition Chair has been trying to reach with the Government’s lead person, Ms. Teixeira to further discuss this matter, but to date she was unable to proceed with the meeting.”
Patterson said that so far, the PAC has received applications for over 20 candidates who expressed their desire to sit on the procurement board.
“We have been working on the short listing and finalising of these names for several months now. The process began since July, and up until now we have seen very little progress towards getting these persons selected,” the AFC member said.
He added, too, that despite efforts to have the sub-committee, which comprises of Figueira and Teixeira to meet, the scheduled meetings keep getting cancelled.
The most recent cancellation, Patterson said, took place on Monday, when the PAC met to review the financial records of the regional administrations, as it was reported in the 2016 Auditor General’s report.
“Yesterday [Monday] it came up at the PAC, but unfortunately we were unable to discuss it. Hopefully we can restart the process of reexamining the names, so we can short list the candidates… [Nevertheless], we will keep pressing, “Patterson added.
Patterson’s comments on the PPC comes one week after Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon had accused the People Progressive Party (PPP) of dismantling the PPC and replacing it with a system that benefits Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Harmon, during a news conference, explained that, “The PPP Administration decided that they would take a grip on the Public Procurement process, to ensure that only those persons and companies that support them get any form of contracts from the Government.”
He added, “What they have done, they have dismantled the Public Procurement Commission; they have dismantled the National Procurement and Tender Board Administration and replaced them with a system which leads directly to Bharrat Jagdeo.”
The former Minister of State noted that the absence of the PPC is in violation of the Constitution, which states under the PPC Tribunal Act, “There shall be a Public Procurement Commission… to monitor public procurements, the procedures is there in order to ensure that the procurement of goods, services, and execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective manner, according to law and such policy guidelines, as may be determined by the National Assembly. The Commission shall be independent, impartial and discharge its functions fairly”.
Harmon said that due to the Commission not being in place, the Government has been awarding contracts to their friends and family, who they hope will in return keep them in power. The PAC is responsible for approving members of the commission.
During last Monday’s sitting of the PAC, Opposition member Ganesh Mahipaul raised the issue of the appointment of the PPC. Towards the end of the meeting, a decision was taken to have the sub-committee meet this week on the appointment of a new board of the PPC.
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