Media Statement: Amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act


Several Private Sector Civil Society organisations met on Monday 17th July 2023 to discuss the proposed amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act. The group was chaired by the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Sector (JCC) and includes AMCHAM T&T, the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, TTCSI, and the T&T Transparency Institute. 

The following is a statement from these organisations:
We reiterate the need for efficient procurement to ensure contracts are awarded in a fair and open manner by levelling the playing field; to protect both government agencies and private businesses from unfair or deceptive practices; and to ensure that contracts are fulfilled according to agreed upon terms and conditions.

We recognise that there are some issues which have not been effectively addressed in the procurement process including the registration requirements with time delays and the operating system itself. We also acknowledge the role and capacity of our members who make up over 60% of MSME’s in Trinidad and Tobago.

After discussion and consideration, the organisations came to the conclusion that amending the Act to remove the need for affirmative resolution of the Parliament to make an Order would not be in the best interest of a transparent procurement regime. We, therefore, do not support amending the Act to allow for Ministerial Orders to be made subject to negative resolution of the Parliament.

While we do acknowledge that there is a need to consider the threshold under which the Act need not apply, we are not in support of such a threshold being set at TTD $1,000,000 (TTD one million dollars). Further, it appears as though the Regulations already outline a process for public bodies to address the setting of such thresholds. Therefore, no amendment to the Act may be required.

The group is of the view that legitimate challenges with the operationalization of the Act, as opposed to deficiencies of the Act itself are being identified as justification for an attempt to amend the law. Consequently, we do not support mixing administrative issues to justify amending the law.

We acknowledge that the process of registering may be difficult but the responsibility for prequalification lies with the procuring entities via their appointed procurement officers. The process of registering and complying with the steps outlined on the platform is onerous. However, we are of the view that this can be addressed by interaction with the OPR to ensure that the intent of the law is achieved without creating unnecessary bureaucracy. This will require the urgent recognition and implementation of specific procedures by several state agencies that must have the capacity to efficiently adhere to deadlines.

We respectfully request that the Minister of Finance to reconsider his position and further discuss the matter via consultation and agreement with the private sector and the OPR. Our respective organisations look forward to further discussion and an outcome that maintains the original intent of the procurement mandate and essentially achieves the objective of ensuring fairness, compliance, and good governance.


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