Steps are being taken to activate the Local Government Commission (LGC) and the Public Procurement Commission, despite concerns by the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) that government is deliberately dragging its feet.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, however, could not say when government’s nominees to the LGC would be named publicly. Against the background of government searching for a building to house the LGC, he suggested that government is considering a number of persons to represent its interests on that body whose responsibilities would include the right to hire and fire.
“I can’t say to you now that we have the names of the persons who are going to be there but the fact that we are looking for buildings and so on, it means we would have had some indication of people we are looking at but I am not at liberty to say who those persons are,” he told reporters.
The PPPC’s nominees are former Town Clerk Carol Sooba, and former Local Government Ministers Clinton Collymore and Norman Whittaker.
In relation to the swearing in of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), the Minister of State said that would depend on when the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly meets at the end of the two-month Parliamentary recess on October 10 to consider salaries and other related matters. He noted that PPC Chairman is a full-time appointment, according to the law, and would require that person to know his or her expected salary. “You know that if you are working somewhere and you are going for another job, at least you must know what is the ‘cheese’ (salary and emoluments), what are you getting before you leave that other job so these terms and conditions have to be settled by the Public Accounts Committee,” he said.
Asked about whether government has decided who would sit on the Public Procurement Tribunal, which is related to the PPC, he said the Commission first has to be set up to decide on the establishment of that dispute settlement mechanism.
When the PPC is set up, there would no longer be a Bid Protest Committee as its functions to address aggrieved bidders would be taken over by a Tribunal.
It is now two months since the National Assembly approved a unanimous PAC proposal for several named persons to be Public Procurement Commissioners. They are Engineer and Attorney-at-Law, Emily Dodson; Caricom Secretariat Administrator, Carol Corbin; Economist, Sukrishnalall Pasha who worked at the Bank of Guyana and the University of Guyana; Principal of the Critchlow Labour College, Ivor English and former People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) government minister and Industrial Relations expert, Dr. Nanda K. Gopaul.
The PPPC has accused government of deliberately stalling and attempting to unduly influence the process in setting up those commissions.