Committee agrees on candidates for Public Procurement Commission

-report for Parliament

Five persons to serve on the long-awaited Public Procurement Commission (PPC) have been selected and a report from the body responsible for the shortlisting, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be presented to the National Assembly at next week Thursday’s sitting, sources say.

Stabroek News was told yesterday by persons close to the PAC that consensus has been reached by the governing APNU+AFC and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on the five-member committee and their respective functions.  This is crucial as the five persons will require the approval of two-thirds of Parliament.

Efforts to contact Chairman of the Committee, Irfaan Ali for comment were futile and PPP/C executive and PAC member Juan Edghill would only confirm that a report will be submitted on August 4th.

“The only thing I can say to you is that the process has been advanced, discussions at the level of the committee has taken place and a report is being prepared for the National Assembly,” Edghill said.

One source explained that the report being presented to the House will among other things, give a status report on the work of the PAC, in respect of the appointments of the selected members, informing that the Committee has reached a unanimous position on its formation.

The PAC Chairman had last month told this newspaper that 29 nominations were received for membership on the PPC and that a sub-committee comprising himself and Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence was then attempting to shortlist 12 of these nominees for presentation to the full PAC for review.

During the submission of nominees’ process, Ali had called for religious organisations, the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, political parties and others to provide names.

The PAC had said that it hopes that the composition of the PPC reflects, as far as possible, the social, gender and political makeup of the country, thus it sought names from a reasonably wide cross-section of society.

“We are currently reviewing the nominees. We want to make sure we go through the process and identify the best candidates in line with the provisions of the act and what was outlined in the TOR (Terms of Reference) for expressions of interest,” Ali had said.

Article 212X (1) of the Constitution states “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.

The Act also states that the purpose of the PPC will be to “monitor public procurement and the procedure therefor in order to ensure that the procurement of goods, services and execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent competitive and cost effective manner according to law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the National Assembly…The Commission shall be independent, impartial, and shall discharge its functions fairly.”

 

‘Functions’

Among the PPC’s key functions, according to the  Procurement Act are to “Monitor and review the functioning of all procurement systems to ensure that they are in accordance with law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the National Assembly; promote awareness of the rules, procedures and special requirements of the procurement process among suppliers, constructors and public bodies; safeguard the national interest in public procurement matters, having due regard to any international obligations; monitor the performance of procurement bodes with respect to adherence to regulations and efficiency in procuring goods and services and execution of works; approve of procedures for public procurement, disseminate rules and procedures for public procurement and recommend modifications thereto to the public procurement entities.”

It will also “monitor and review all legislation, policies and measures for compliance with the objects and matters under its purview and report the need for any legislation to the National Assembly; monitor and review the procurement procedures of the ministerial, regional, and national procurement entities as well as those of project execution units; investigate complaints from suppliers, contractors and public entities and propose remedial action; investigate cases of irregularity and mismanagement, and propose remedial action; initiate investigations to facilitate the effective functioning of public procurement systems.”

The PPC can also enlist the aid of experts to assist with specialist advice as needed and will also liaise with and refer matters to the police and the Auditor General; and do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of the functions of the Commission.

The APNU+AFC government had promised the PPC within its first 100 days in office. In November of last year, the PAC commenced advertising for nominees.

 

‘Two thirds majority vote’

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.

Though the Act was implemented in 2003,  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.

When the report has been submitted and if two thirds of the National Assembly approves it, President David Granger will then be charged with formally appointing the members.

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