MSJ political leader David Abdulah scoffed at Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s promise that amendments to the Procurement Act will be laid in Parliament in February. Imbert made this statement at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Thursday.
Imbert also said regulations for the legislation will also be laid in Parliament in February. At a news conference at the party’s headquarters in San Fernando on Friday, Abdulah said Imbert was “six months too late in having the regulations approved.”
Referring to statements made by Procurement Regulator Moonilal Lalchan on this matter, Abdulah said there was no reason why such regulations should have been on Imbert’s desk for such a long time.
He added that the PNM does not appear to have learned from the PP’s inability to enact proper public procurement legislation during its five years in office. Abdulah, a former PP senator, recalled that he was a member of a joint select committee which sat from 2010 to 2012 to deal with procurement legislation.
He wondered how many billions of dollars would have been spent between 2010 and 2020 in the absence of effective procurement legislation. Abdulah said possibly $5 billion could have been saved, had the legislation been in place.
He was also concerned about proper oversight for expenditure of state money with general elections constitutionally due this year. He said it is a fact that all governments over the last 40 years increase their expenditure in an election year, citing paving work currently taking place as an example.
He also repeated the MSJ’s call for campaign finance legislation to be brought to Parliament and implemented. Abdulah did not believe the PNM and UNC were eager for this legislation to be passed. He claimed both parties already have their financiers.
Imbert said he had held talks with the Procurement Regulator (Moonilal Lalchan) as to whether the act should be amended to exclude its present coverage of two types of deal, namely government-to-government deals and public-private partnerships. Of the former, he said it would be very hard for TT to enter into such a deal and then expect a foreign government. such as that of the UK or US. to subject themselves to TT law. Such an inclusion could curb any such deals between TT and foreign governments, he warned.
While the regulator had suggested his office would try to manage the situation as it goes along, Imbert said the Government did not want to leave the act open-ended. “We will go to Parliament to address the whole question.”