Operationalise the Office of the Procurement Regulator

For Immediate Release
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
26th May, 2021

Media Release

The Private Sector Civil Society Group (PSCSG) once again feels compelled to LOUDLY call out the Government (GORTT) based on its ongoing procrastination and failure to operationalize the Office of the Procurement Regulator (OPR).

The 3rd Amendment of Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act of 2015 (PPDPPA) was brought to Parliament by the Government in November 2020 after intense lobbying and outcry from the public, and was finally assented to by the President of the Republic on December 27th, 2020. The next step in the process was the amendment of the Draft Regulations to bring it in line with the amended PPDPPA. The Original Draft of the PPDPP Regulations, 2019 can still be found on the OPR’s Website.

The PSCSG is aware however that the Amended Draft Regulations were in fact supplied by the OPR to the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) and Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Jan 25th, 2021, after several meetings between their respective legal teams. It is therefore over four months since The Amended Draft Regulations were submitted by the OPR to the LRC with no tangible progress.

Based on our direct ongoing queries to the OPR, we were informed that the OPR finally met with the LRC on Monday 3rd April 2021, and representatives of the OPR were asked to be excused from the meeting so discussions could be held among Senior Ministers, on the Government’s policy position in respect of certain issues that touch and concern Government Procurement. More alarmingly, we were informed that the meeting was adjourned to a “date to be decided.” Are we to believe that the Government still has policy issues with The Act (PPDPPA) or the Amended Regulations?

The Act is now six years old and this Government amended it three times between 2016 and 2020; while The Draft Regulations have already been in the public domain for two years, so amendments to the latter should be reasonably limited to the Amendments to the Act. The PSCSG has to question why this process of ratifying the Amended Regulations is taking so long and more importantly, why there is no commitment for a date to bring the amended regulations to Parliament for resolution? What this means for the public is that the full operationalization of the OPR remains glaringly outstanding as it still needs to be empowered with The Regulations.

In the meantime, Public Bodies continue to spend limited public funds without independent oversight by the OPR. The ongoing pandemic cannot be used by the Government as an excuse to delay its work on any part of this process. The OPR took one month to amend the Draft Regulations during pandemic conditions.

The procrastination and broken promises of the GORTT to deliver accountability and efficiency related to public procurement continues to be a great travesty for the citizens of this country. We call on to the powers that be to address The Draft Regulations now.

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