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PPP slams govt on non-establishment of Procurement Commission; hiring forensic auditors

The Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) is chiding government’s inability to set up the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) as soon as was promised, and for allegedly flaunting procurement procedures in securing the services of Christopher Ram and Anand Goolsarran to carry out forensic audits of state bodies.

Noteworthy though, is the fact that the PPPC’s decision to boycott the National Assembly for an undetermined period is partially responsible for whatever delay occurs in establishing the PPC.

The party boycotted the first sitting of the 11th Parliament and today shared intentions to boycott Thursday’s sitting as well. Further, it was said that the party does not know if it will go to parliament during the 100 days in which government has promised to execute several initiatives.

Asked if the PPPC is not at least partially responsible for any delays in setting up the Commission in light above, the party’s General Secretary, Clement Rohee, during a press conference today, said, “the sitting president must be aware of what is required… the coalition is the one who promised to bring it in immediately in the first 100.”

He did not he not directly address the question.

Rohee also said “It is not the PPPC that made the promise of the immediate establishment of the PPC…it is they that made the declaration,” when the question was asked of him again.

When further pressed on his party’s culpability in matter Rohee said “that’s not my issue. That’s not the issue I’m raising,” before moving to criticise government for the lack of transparency in the selection of Goolrarran and Ram to conduct forensic audits of state agencies.

Before the PPC is set up, each party in the National Assembly must submit the names its nominees to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), one of the National Assembly’s Standing Committees. The PAC must then deliberate on the nominees before short-listing a final list of persons. This list is then sent to the National Assembly which will vote on whether it will accept the names.

A two-thirds majourity vote is necessary for the list to be approved. Government holds only a simple majority in the House so it will not be able to approve the names without the PPPC’s support.

At any rate, the Standing Orders (SOs) of the National Assembly dictates that the Chairman of the PAC must come from the opposition party. The Committee, therefore cannot be established until the PPPC agrees to the go to parliament, which it still has not decided to do. Furthermore, the PPPC, when it held the Executive, continuously iterated its opposition to the fact that the establishment of the PPC would erode government’s no-objections powers in the procurement process.

It is for this reason that the PPPC, when it constituted the Executive during the 10th Parliament, refused to submit its nominees to the PAC.

Former president, Donald Ramotar, had said the Party would only name its nominees if the opposition parties agreed to amend legislation to cancel this fading of the Executive’s powers. Asked by journalists if blaming the existing government in light these realities is fair, Rohee said “of course it is considered fair.”

The General Secretary was also critical in the manner in which Ram and Goolrarran were selected to execute forensic audits of state bodies.

“The fact of the matter is…how can you speak so proudly about your intention to establish the PPC when the services of persons are being procured to carry out audits of government agencies and departments without it going through the (established) procurement process,” Rohee lamented.

“Here it is now before our very eyes, two persons have been procured to carry out these audits and nobody knows what was the process that was gone though for their services to be hired and what they are being paid,” he also argued, adding that governments words and actions, in this instant, are “contradictory.