Joint Consultative Council: Where is Procurement Regulator’s annual report?

JCC president Fazir Khan -
JCC president Fazir Khan -

The Joint Consultative Council (JCC) is concerned about Procurement Regulator Beverly Khan’s failure to issue an annual report as required by section 24 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act, which was operationalised in April last year.

In a press release on Monday, the council, through its president Fazir Khan, shared its concern, while also saying this was important given Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s projected $9 billion deficit.

In a June 4 press release, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – which welcomed Trinidad and Tobago’s sustained economic recovery – commended the proclaimed Procurement Act, which it said “should help improve the efficiency of public spending.”

The council’s release said the independent report should have been submitted to Speaker  Bridgid Annisette-George, Senate president Nigel de Freitas and Imbert in December 2023.

It added that eight items were to be included in that report, including a figure representing the total value of contracts awarded by public bodies, another representing the cost of the total value of procurement-contract variances for 2023 and the number of unfulfilled contracts awarded by public bodies in respect of procurement.

Other items to be included were a summary of public procurement transactions for each public body, including subsections with the number of procurement contracts awarded; the number of procurement contracts varied; the quantum of those variances; number of unfulfilled procurement contracts and cost incurred; a brief description of the projects for procurement, the awardees, the value, scope of works and the expected deliverables of projects,as well as the lessons learnt from the management of procurement contracts.

The report also should have included the names of public bodies failing to comply with the act, an assessment of the overall performance of the procurement system and a summary of unresolved issues to be addressed as well as recommendations needing action on the part of the procuring entity.

The release said that report would have supplied critical data and information to Parliament and the public.

“Only then can any assessment of the efficacy of the new legislation be determined and adjustments can be made.

“This is even more dire at this time, when the 2024 mid-year budget review presented by the Finance Minister now projects a $9 billion deficit. Procurement reform is supposed to eventually realise savings in the vicinity of $4 billion-$5 billion annually.”

The council said it indicated to Khan that about 80 per cent of expenditure in public procurement was spent by only ten per cent of the approximately 400 public entities.

So, it said, "The Office of the Procurement Regulation, OPR) can concentrate their resources on the fewer large spenders in order to have the largest positive impact soonest.”

The release said a dangerous precedent was being set by the OPR in not issuing the report, which did not instil confidence in the public. It added that it sent a bad message to procuring entities that it was “business as usual.”

“We therefore urge the OPR to issue the annual report in compliance with section 24 of the Procurement Act, immediately,” it said.

Checks to the OPR’s website showed a 2023-2025 strategic plan with former regulator Moonilal Lalchan listed as its chairman among more recent reports. There are seven reports on the OPR’s website.


"Joint Consultative Council: Where is Procurement Regulator’s annual report?"

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