Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat said government has been making steady progress in proclaiming procurement legislation.
Rambharat made the remarks in response to comments from Opposition Senator Wade Mark who accused the government of delaying the full proclamation of the bill as contracts were being issued seemingly without oversight, during the closing remarks of a Senate sitting on Tuesday.
Rambharat said there were various policies and acts in place that would prevent the government from issuing contracts while regulating state spending. He also said Mark, who was a member of several Public Accounts Committees, should know that government oversight was necessary when issuing contracts.
“The Central Tenders Board continues to exist, the Defence Force Act contains provisions for procurement to be done for the military. The state enterprises ha rules governing their procurement, the regional health authorities have procurement rules. This government has not been operating in the absence of legislation, regulation and oversight, including oversight for my friend Senator Mark.
“He has used this slingshot motion to continue to promulgate a massive piece of misinformation relating to NCB. I sit in the Cabinet and I see those notes when they come. And, Senator Mark, every time you cast aspersions on the funding and the awards of mandates to fund, you are casting aspersions on the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance and those public servants.”
Rambharat also said the government has made some progress in proclaiming the procurement legislation, dismissing Mark’s accusations.
“Within the first two months of coming into government we laid a bill to amend the Procurement Act of 2015 and that had to deal with removal of the regulator, reporting to the PAC, and the disposal of state lands.
“That bill was referred to a joint select committee and completed its process and was passed, assented in June 2016, so the first ten months went in preparing the bill and getting it through this Parliamentary process.
"Sixteen months after coming into government we had a second lead on December 2016 that had to do with reducing the term of the regulator that was assented to March 2017.
"The board was assented on January 2018 with the first employee being hired on July 1, 2018 and the first meeting the Office of the Procurement Regulator had with the Ministry of Finance was on October 26, 2018.
“So it took three years and one month to meet with the Minister of Finance, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and the Solicitor General.”
Rambharat said while the Legislative Review Committee was meeting on Monday, it received feedback on its proposals from the office of the Procurement Regulator on amendments on four sections of the parent act.