Prominent civil lawyer, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran has recommended that the opposition agree to an amendment to allow for cabinet to give reasons for objecting to the award of a contract.
“This compromise position, if supported by the Opposition, would test the bona fides of the Government,” he said in his weekly column published on www.conversationtree.gy
Although the opposition parties- A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC)- have submitted nominees for the long-awaited Public Procurement Commission (PPC), government has in recent times been saying that Cabinet must still give its no-objection.
The two opposition parties, which together enjoy a one-seat majority in the 65-seat House, have already signalled that they would not support such an amendment.
He believes that government’s posture is intended to sabotage the establishment of the PPC or to perpetuate corruption. “The other is the now accepted perception that the Government is determined to do nothing to stop corruption,” he said.
Ramkarran disagrees with the opposition’s stance, saying that the opposition should back an amendment with clear and specific requirements so that the PPC could be finally established.
“It should agree to Cabinet no objection but propose that the section should be further amended to provide that the objection should be for defined reasons with the necessary particulars substantiating the reasons.
Ramkarran further recommended that the National Procurement and Tender Board should then convene a hearing to which both parties are invited and evidence taken on the basis of which a conclusion should be arrived at. He said either party should then have the right to appeal the decision to the PPC.
Ramkarran, who fell out with the PPC over his concerns about corruption, further argued that if no provision is made for government to provide reasons, that would be “highly unfair.”
“The absence of a requirement for the Government to provide reasons would be highly unfair to give licence to the Cabinet to whimsically or maliciously object to an award and then to have a “review” of that award by the NPTB who are employees of the Government,” added Ramkarran, a former House Speaker.
He reasons that it does not matter how high the integrity of these officials, it would be seen to be unfair, and justice will not be seen to be done, if the Cabinet is allowed to subvert the procurement process after it has gone through all the procedures.
Ramkarran, who is a member of a well-established law firm, said government engineers, accountants and project execution officials of government ministries and departments are responsible for ensuring that public funds are properly spent.