THE JOINT Consultative Council for the Construction Industry is urging the government to proclaim procurement legislation as a priority.
As it offered the government congratulations on winning the August 10 general elections, the association said in a statement Thursday: “We continue to advocate on behalf of the construction industry, and by extension citizens, for Government to facilitate the full operationalisation of the Office of the Procurement Regulator and proclamation of the Procurement Act and its regulations, so that TT may emerge from this covid19 crisis as an institutionally stronger country, with world-class procurement practices to enable us to get even further value from Government’s spending.”
The Procurement Act is intended to replace the Central Tenders Board and update the government’s processes for tendering, making it more transparent. The act has been passed in Parliament and the Office of the Procurement Regulator (OPR) installed – just not yet empowered. That’s because the regulations that outline the role of the OPR need to be approved in the Parliament. Once that happens, the act can be proclaimed in full. The regulations were taken to Parliament earlier this year but not finalised before Parliament was dissolved in July to make way for the general election.
The JCC said in its statement that promises made for an early enactment of the regulations “have failed to come to fruition.” “Notwithstanding a strong and persistent lobby from the Private Sector Civil Society Group (inclusive of the major business chambers) there has seemingly been no real commitment to have (the act’s) full implementation,” the JCC said. The OPR has 11 directors and 11 staff members, who ironically, the JCC said, were costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually without direct benefit to the country. “The JCC, therefore renews its appeal to the Prime Minister to instruct the Finance Minister to keep his previous and more recent promise to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and to seek the proclamation of the procurement regulations now.”
When contacted, the Ministry of Finance communications department was unable to provide an update of the status of the regulations. Associations that make up the JCC include the TT Contractors’ Association, the Association of Professional Engineers, the TT Institute of Architects, the Institute of Surveyors and the TT Society of Planners.