Provide a definitive timeline for implementation | Local company

THREE private sector groups and a local non-profit organization that focuses on transparency said yesterday they were extremely concerned that the law on public procurement and the disposal of public property had not been fully proclaimed and implemented.

Yesterday, AMCHAM T&T, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute expressed extreme concern.

In a press release, the groups said: “We are encouraged that the Honorable Attorney General has recently re-engaged the Government in its implementation when he said: ‘The Government has placed its highest priority and is fully committed to taking the final steps to fully proclaim and give effect to this important law”.

But the groups said they “are deeply disappointed that the lack of ‘preparedness’ of state-owned enterprises, over which the government has ultimate control, may further delay full implementation of the law.”

They said the issue of the lack of preparedness of state bodies “must be addressed as a matter of priority to ensure that it does not constitute a limitation in the implementation of the law”.

Last Wednesday, in a statement to parliament, Attorney General Reginald Armor said T&T was not ready to implement the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.

“The proclamation (of public procurement legislation) without everyone being ready is a recipe for disaster,” Armor said, adding that less than a month after taking office he had exchanged correspondence with two important stakeholders, namely the agent of the public procurement regulator. (OPR) and the judiciary.

Armor said the OPR’s response, dated April 13, 2022, indicated that while some public bodies had begun the process of preparing for compliance with the law, there was however “significant work to be undertaken to establish the system and the processes required. ”.

In an interview with the Express on Wednesday, public procurement regulator Moonilal Lalchan said that of the 314 public bodies that would fall under the law, the OPR had communication with only 70 of them. since 2020.

“Not all ministries took this seriously and appointed someone to do it. So there is some level of truth in what the attorney general has said that some departments are not ready,” Lalchan said.

Yesterday the four organizations said: ‘We call on the government to give a clear timetable for the implementation of the law and to commit the necessary time and resources to ensure that this is respected.’

The organizations said they have been actively engaged in this process over the past decade in collaboration with several other groups under the Private Sector Civil Society Organization banner.

“We support the view of the CCM that full implementation of the law is possible before the reading of the 2023 national budget. Full implementation of this law is a step towards strengthening the rule of law in Trinidad and Tobago and increasing investor confidence. It will also demonstrate the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the use of public resources,” the four entities said.

In a statement last week, responding to the attorney general’s comments, the JCC said: “The current administration’s failure to implement this languid public procurement reform legislation is a direct reflection of its lack of commitment to transparency, accountability and value. for money when they spend public funds. Hiding now behind this newly declared excuse that they are acting responsibly is an indictment of their performance in public service.