Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley,makes his contribution to the debate on The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2020 during the sitting of the Parliament, yesterday.

“Government to government transactions are needed.”

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley defended the inclusion of the clause in the bill which would allow for such to be allowed, as he pointed to the successful acquisition of vessels to ply the Seabridge.

“In developing the regulations from the law that we have passed, we discovered there were one or two things that were impractical. One is that you wanted to stymie, it would stymie the government from having government to government arrangements,” said the Prime Minister as he contributed to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Parliament yesterday.

“I know that there are different point of views, largely with contractors and their associates who have a problem with that, because their problem is that if you have government to government they somehow have been excluded from getting a contract,” he said. “We disagree that we should tie the government hand because I know the reason for that, had we been able to approach the Australian Government at the level of Prime Minister to Prime Minister we would not have been able to access opic funding to buy those two ferries to link Trinidad and Tobago and the Opposition would have loved that.”

In May 2018 after meeting the Prime Minister of Australia as well as Australian companies Incat and Austal, the Prime Minister announced the intention to purchase two vessels.

One of those two vessels, the APT James is expected to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago later this month, after making its latest refuelling stop at Suez Canal, Egypt over a week ago.

Amid questions being posed to the Minister of National Security Stuart Young about Damen Shipyard, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley posed a few at Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar with regard to the purchase of 12 vessels from the Dutch group.

While addressing the procurement bill, the Prime Minister again referred to a 2015 investigation launched into that $210m transaction which allegedly prompted a probe by Dutch investigators.

During her contribution, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar echoed many concerns that had been published about the amendments of the bill, inclusive of the government to government transactions.

She argued that the government had done little with the bill to address frailties that had been there previously.

“What you are going to be doing by removing these services is that you’re going to put it back in the old procurement system which is fraught with difficulty. It would take any unscrupulous official to exploit these to the benefit of friends and family,” she said.

“Therefore you will be running a parallel procurement system which could end up raising serious constitutional issues,’ the Opposition Leader said, claiming that the government had instead gutted the act and made it toothless.

The Opposition Leader also noted the limited time given for review of the bill, noting that it was brought to the Opposition bench on Monday evening.