Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Irfaan Ali says days prior to the deadline for the submission of nominations for the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) he was not pleased with the number of names put forth.
He told Stabroek News yesterday that “up to the 20th of December I was not satisfied with the report in relation to responses because of the number of responses at the time”. The deadline for submissions was December 23, 2015.
Ali said that the PAC has not met as yet to discuss the way forward with the submissions, while noting that the committee is still saddled with work from the 10th Parliament.
With that said, Ali stated that the “PAC is taking it as one of our important tasks and one that is very critical and the government has indicated that they are looking forward to the PAC concluding this process in an expeditious manner. The opposition has also said that it would like to see it done in an expeditious manner.”
He said that the PAC was currently “running behind” the Auditor General’s report for 2014, but that “the PAC has outlined a set of activities that is required,” inclusive of the revision of the submission of PPC nominees.
Ali said that the committee may run into further difficulty in January if the budget for 2016 is submitted to the National Assembly then and the debates and consideration of the estimates commence. The Chairman told Stabroek News that the advertisement for interested persons to apply was to attract both local and overseas-based Guyanese with the capabilities to perform the services of commissioner on the PPC.
The Parliament Office ran advertisements for weeks prior to the submission deadline, alerting interested persons to apply or provide a nomination.
It was noted in the ad that Article 212X (1) of the Constitution states that “the Public Procurement Commission shall consist of five members who shall have expertise and experience in procurement, legal, financial and administrative matters” and (2) the President shall appoint the members of the Commission after such members have been nominated by the Public Accounts Committee and approved by not less than two-thirds of the elected members of the National Assembly.”
This would mean that the candidates would have to have the approval of both sides of the House.
“In addition, it is the wish of the PAC that the composition of the Public Procurement Commission would reflect, as far as possible, the social, gender and political makeup of the country,” the ad said. It pointed out that the nominees should first and foremost be competent to carry out the required duties.
“The usual considerations regarding the need to be of good repute, without criminal records and no history of bankruptcy, apply,” the ad said.
The Commissioners, once appointed, would be part-time. For years the PPP/C while in office had haggled with the PNCR, APNU and the AFC over candidates for the PPC and how many should be nominated by either side.
Both APNU and the AFC, while in opposition, had lobbied for the removal of Cabinet’s “no-objection” role in the procurement process. According to the Procurement Act, Cabinet shall have the right to review all procurements, the value of which exceeds $15 million. However, once the PPC is commissioned, Cabinet’s no-objection powers will be phased out so as to decentralize the procurement process.
Article 54 (1) of the Procurement Act reads, in part: “The Cabinet and, upon its establishment, the Public Procurement Commission, shall review annually the Cabinet’s threshold for review of procurements, with the objective of increasing that threshold over time so as to promote the goal of progressively phasing out Cabinet involvement and decentralising the procurement process.”
Though the Act was implemented in 2003, the Cabinet still holds full powers as it relates to its role in the procurement process owing to the fact that the PPC has not been constituted. Cabinet presently signals its no-objection to contracts and only then can they proceed. This “no-objection” role had been strongly opposed by APNU and AFC when they were in opposition.