Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Deadline for appointments to procurement body approaching

Deadline for appointments to procurement body approaching
Stabroek News news item. Wednesday June 4, 2008

Although the PPP/C has committed to meeting the 90-day deadline for the appointment of members of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) the PNCR-1G is not so sure that the stakeholder-set deadline will be met since the former hasn’t yet submitted names for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to ponder.
This is according to former Chairman of the PAC Winston Murray who believes that the PPP/C is holding the process up.
The deadline for the fulfillment of a number of commitments will come on June 8, ninety days after the multi-stakeholder consultations held on March 12, following the Lusignan and Bartica killings.
Contacted last week for a comment, PPP/C member of the PAC Komal Chand said that he didn’t want to comment on the issue at this time. Chand is the point man on the Government’s side looking at the PPP/C appointees.
The PPP/C had submitted a list of names some time ago but then had subsequently withdrawn them.
Murray said that during last week Monday’s sitting of the PAC, he raised the issue with the Government members. According to Murray, they said that they were aware of the 90-day deadline for these constitutional commitments to be met and were working towards this.
But Murray pointed out that the mere submission of a list alone is not the end of the matter, since after the submission of the names the PAC must deliberate and select five names from among them all. This, he said, will take some time for the committee to go through in a thorough manner.
Further, he said that the names when selected must be submitted properly to the National Assembly and then forwarded to the President who will then appoint the members of the PPC.
Murray said that the PPP/C also wants to have three of the five people come from among their nominees.
“They are not looking at this realistically,” said Murray. “This will take some time to process.” The Alliance For Change has also submitted a name for consideration, this newspaper understands.
Murray is of the view that the ruling party may be too comfortable with the status quo and may not be in a rush to change things.
An official from the World Bank recently commented on the need to have the PPC in place so that aggrieved participants to the procurement process could seek redress, and said that the Bank has reminded Government about this.
Since the passage of the Procurement Act 2003, the National Board of Procure-ment and Tender Administra-tion (NBPTA) has been set up and is administering public procurement on a national level with oversight of regional procurement.
Over the past few months the PAC has been working to have the names individually checked off so that the process can move forward. Replacements for those who have either moved on or passed away have to be addressed as well.
According to Opposition members of the PAC, the Committee will be seeking to choose the five best people for the job and this would not necessarily be based on whether the person was nominated by the governing PPP/C or the Opposition.
According to Article 212 W (1) of the Constitution: “There shall be a Public Procurement Commission the purpose of which is to monitor public procurement and the procedure therefore in order to ensure that the procurement of services and execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective manner according to laws and such policy guidelines that may be determined by the National Assembly.”
Subsection (2) states: “The Commission shall be independent, impartial and shall discharge its functions fairly.”
The setting up of the PPC was one of the decisions coming out of the constitutional reform process. But it was with the progression of the Constructive Engagement between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin that the matter was given attention with its inclusion in the 2003 Communiqué as one of the commitments undertaken.

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