The United National Congress is petitioning for the Government to repeal the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property act of 2020.
At a round table webinar on Monday, several speakers including former PNM finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira outlined concerns with the legislation and the need for it to be repealed.
The main contention with the bill by civil society and business organizations is clause 5, which removes legal, medical, financial, accounting and auditing services, as well as any others so deemed by the minister of finance, from the remit of the procurement regulator.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said under the Dr Keith Rowley led administration, the amended legislation served as a blow to transparency and democracy.
Persad-Bissessar said the petition is aimed at lobbying Government to restore the legislation to it’s initial structure.
“We the undersigned call on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to repeal the procurement amendment act of 2020 and I would include here, the previous ones 2016, 2017 and 2020, to repeal those amendment acts and restore the Public Procurement and Disposal of Property act 1 of 2015 in its original form,” it said.
During her contribution, Nunez-Tesheira called on the Prime Minister to restore the necessary checks and balances to the legislation which safeguards the country, “ If he is aware of the abuse which can take place, and as he is the person to look after the interests of the country, why remove the protection of this legislation?” Nunez-Tesheira described the petition as a watershed point for preserving the economy she also stressed that her participation in the discussion was solely as an independent voice.
Former senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith said the amendments to sections of the bill were a retrograde step and placed more ambiguity over the awarding of contracts, “ this is not acceptable, we must call upon them to change the legislation.”
According to Persad-Bissessar, the legislation in its current form will not address instances of corruption, “ we need this procurement law to protect the citizens of this land and to prevent the corruption levels that can occur and which have already occurred I ask of you log unto the petition and let’s support it”.
Up to late yesterday, there were over sixteen hundred signatures to the online petition.