Ken Chee Hing
A PLEA has gone out to President Paula-Mae Weekes not to act in haste and proclaim the Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Amendment Act (2020).
“We beg you not to act in haste or under pressure to proclaim this modified and weakened act,” Gary Aboud, corporate secretary of non-governmental organisation Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, said in a press release on Wednesday.
In making his plea to the President, Aboud asked, why are leaders not seriously interested in protecting the Treasury?
Every stable nation, he said in the release, has good procurement legislation that ensures open, honest and fair procurement which prevents corruption. PM Rowley and leading private sector agencies, Aboud added, should be ashamed for calling for its proclamation, “as a matter of priority.”
He said that on June 27, business stakeholders including the American Chamber of Commerce (AmchamTT), the TT Chamber of Commerce, TT Manufacturers Association and the TT Transparency Institute requested that the legislation and its amendments be proclaimed and fully implemented, as a matter of priority.
“It appears that these parties are more interested in their own self-interest than the public interest,” Aboud said.
He claimed that successive governments have pillaged the Treasury without any accountability, independent third-party oversight, or transparency.
TT has earned a reputation of inflating the cost of everything from highways to ferries, from Coast Guard ships to helicopters, from box drains to skyscrapers, he pointed out.
Aboud, who is also a businessman, said people who ought to protect the public purse and ensure value for money are instead mixed up in schemes and scandals. “Today more than ever we need to safeguard and protect an already exhausted public purse.”
He also said that the essence of the Act has been undermined.
“Why would any Prime Minister support amendments that exclude Government to Government arrangements and public/private partnerships from the ambit of the Office of Procurement Regulations?”
He said that proclaiming the act along with its amendments gives government a totalitarian authoritative frontline to go further into the treasury.
“Madam President, this legislation is the most critical legal structure to stop the corruption haemorrhage. We humbly and respectfully appeal to you not to proclaim the act until the amendments are removed,” Aboud said.