Jensen La Vende
PROCUREMENT Regulator Moonilal Lalchan says he and his board are ready to work as soon as the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill 2020 is assented to.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by the TT Transparency Institute (TTTI) on Wednesday, Lalchan said his board was ready to get started.
“We are fully funded and ready but the regulations are the sticking points.”
Lalchan said his board was hoping that it could begin its work once the adjustments to the procurement regulations are brought to Parliament and passed. He anticipates a six-month delay between the law being enacted and the Office of the Procurement Regulation (OPR) fully functioning.
“We have completed the operationalising of the OPR with guidelines. There is nothing that needs to be done again. We have had seven judges from the High Courts train us along with two from the Caribbean Court of Justice in how to conduct matters.”
The bill was passed in the Senate on December 8 with one independent senator supporting the Government.
Critics of the bill complained it would exclude government-to-government and private-public partnerships from the remit of the 2015 parent act, but Lalchan said private-public partnership contracts would be covered under section 7.
Regarding concerns of gangsters being awarded contracts, Lalchan said the issue of convicted person benefiting is addressed but not for accused people.
He added that some 1,400 contractors were part of consultations to be pre-qualified with 200 already starting the process. He called on regional corporations to adopt the pre-qualified approach within their jurisdictions. He said for emergency contracts, the board recommended, and it was adopted, that the system used in Botswana be TT’s guide.
The OPR board has been in existence for two years. During that time, its officers have been training and preparing to lead the way in procurement in TT.
Earlier in the webinar, TTTI’s chairman Dion Abdool called for whistle-blower and campaign-finance legislation to be brought to Parliament as both are needed for good governance.
He called on members of parliament to do what is necessary to pass the laws, in particular whistle-blower legislation to protect against those who shed light on corrupt government practices.
Abdool’s call for legislative support for the whistle-blower legislation was echoed by Lalchan as well. Lalchan said, to protect whistle-blowers, the OPR would be using a foreign company to address complaints so that those making reports would feel safe in bringing information forward.