Establishment of Procurement Commission is not Government’s responsibility alone – President
Georgetown, GINA, March 14, 2014
The Government continues to emphasise the importance of its ‘no objection’ role in the procurement process, and the consequences of its removal as proposed by the political Opposition.
President Donald Ramotar said that contrary to the impression that is being created, the Government has no qualms about establishing a Public Procurement Commission (PPC), but maintained that the already miniscule role of no-objection must be preserved. He was at the time speaking at the national stakeholder consultation on the Anti-Money Laundering Bill at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal.
He reminded too, that Guyana is the only country in the Caribbean region where the Cabinet does not award contracts.
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said that the matter of the PPC is not one that resides solely in the hands of the Government as the membership for the commission is nominated by the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament which is chaired by Opposition front-bencher, Carl Greenidge.
“Once that committee would have nominated members, the Parliament has to approve those nominations with a two-thirds majority. So the creation of the impression that the Government alone is responsible for the appointment of the PPC is a misrepresentation,” the Finance Minister explained.
The Minister further clarified that the preservation of Cabinet’s no-objection role does not in any way, limit, restrict, or divert from the constitutional powers of the PPC. The powers of the PPC are enshrined in the Constitution of Guyana.
Therefore, there is no question that the PPC will be able to discharge its functions unimpaired by the Cabinet’s involvement.
The Minister explained that there is a reason why Cabinet must play role in the process.
“You cannot go to the executive and say we are holding you responsible for the non-implementation of a project or a violation of a procedure when the Cabinet did not play a role in the process…if played no role in a process that generates a particular outcome then you cannot be held accountable for that outcome, you can only be held accountable and responsible for a process in which you have some involvement,” he said.
He added that if the Cabinet’s role is removed from the procurement process, then simultaneously, it would have to be absolved of any responsibility for the outcome of that process.
“What you have here is an attempt to remove the Cabinet from involvement in the process, but you still want to hold the Cabinet accountable for the result,” he said.
Last year, the Government tabled the Procurement (Amendment) Bill which was sent to a select committee. The Bill seeks to modify section 54 of the Procurement Act of 2003, by deleting sub-section six, which by doing so, will retain Cabinet’s involvement in the procurement process.