AFC MP seeks to move public procurement commission process forward

AFC MP and representative on Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Trevor Williams is seeking to press the committee to move forward with the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission despite the non-submission of the PPP/C’s nominees. 4

The motive behind this move, he told Stabroek News yesterday are in line with the Alliance for Change’s (AFC) commitment and determination to the setting up of the PPC.

The PAC is tasked with the responsibility of setting up the PPC. The laws require the AFC, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) to nominate names for the PAC to deliberate on. Once the committee settles on five names, they are put to the National Assembly, where a two-thirds vote is required to get the names approved.

Only after the names are approved by the National Assembly, will the President be able to move to appoint the PPC’s commissioners. So far, the AFC and APNU have named their nominees, while the PPP/C’s nominees are outstanding.

Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira, who sits on the committee with Williams, has said that the PPP/C will name its nominees and move the process forward when the opposition parties agree to allow Cabinet to retain its no-objections power in procurement after the PPC comes into being. President Donald Ramotar has echoed this position.

According to amended legislation, which the government itself voted to pass, Cabinet’s no-objection in the procurement process will be phased out with the setting up of the PPC. The opposition parties have stated that they will not support government’s efforts to reverse the amendment.

In the interim, a sub-committee of the PAC has been set up to work out the technical issues relating to the establishment of the PPC, while the political parties remain at odds on the political factors.

One of the sub-committee’s responsibilities was to receive the names of nominees from members of the public. According to Williams, this phase has been completed. He said the sub-committee is in receipt of around 53 names of various non-political persons, and it is currently working on setting the criteria under which the five who will constitute the PPC will be chosen.

 Moving forward

Williams says the committee can no longer wait on the PPP/C, and that he will seek to have the work progress in spite of the non-submission of the leading party’s nominees. As the committee finalizes the criteria, he said, the PPP/C will have time to decide on its names.

If by this time the leading party still does not decide on its nominees, he opined, it will be asked that they support the names of decided on by the PAC. Since the PPP/C has made its condition for supporting the progression of the process clear – that Cabinet be allowed to keep its no-objection privileges – support in this regard is unlikely.

Stabroek News attempted to get a solid position from PPP/C MP Manzoor Nadir yesterday but he said the standing orders of the National Assembly prohibit him from speaking on committee issues not open to the public. He did offer though, that the sub-committee is working on the criteria to be used to finalise the PPC’s commissioners, and that he would want to wait on the criteria to be completed to ensure that anyone he would move to nominate meets the criteria.

He made it clear though, that this was his position, and not necessarily that of the PPP/C. Calls were made to Teixeira yesterday to obtain the party’s position by she was not available.

The AFC has tied the passing of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill to the setting up of the PPC. Officials from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), the regional body which regulates money laundering and terrorism financing regulations, has made it clear that failure to pass the legislation by the stipulated deadline will result in stiff backlash.

AFC though, along which the APNU which has conditions of its own, says it will not budge until its demands are met.

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