Procurement Bill to face tough debate in Senate today

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Procurement Bill to face tough debate in Senate today

The Public Procurement Bill will face its toughest test when it is debated in the Senate today.

It passed in the lower House as the Government has a majority there, however, in the Senate the Government would need the support of at least one Independent Senator to pass the legislation.

The nine Independent Senators are Paul Richards, Anthony Vieira, Amrita Deonarine, Varma Deyalsingh, Maria Dillon-Remy, Charrise Seepersad, Deoroop Teemal, Hazel Thompson-Ahye and Evans Welch.

The bill has received widespread criticism from independent organizations such as the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, the Joint Consultative Council, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association and various Chambers of Commerce.

The main issue with the bill stems from Clause 5, which seeks to remove legal, financial, accounting, auditing services, or any other service as the minister chooses, from the ambit of the Procurement Regulator.

However, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, has defended the clause arguing that the Government’s hands should not be forced to accept the lowest bid when seeking the services of professionals such as attorneys, doctors, accountants, or auditors since those types of services involved issues of confidence and competence.