Civil Society group accuses gov’t of constitutional violation over granting of large contracts with no procurement commission in place
The recently formed civil society group, Article 13, has taken the government to task over what it sees as the government’s failure to constitute a long list of constitutional and statutory offices for the smooth functioning of the country.
A release signed by three of the group’s members, Yog Mahadeo, Johnathon Yearwood, and Ramon Gaskin, expressed particular concern that President Ali has failed to establish the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the Public Procurement Commission Tribunal (PPCT) even as the government is expending billions of taxpayers’ dollars, coupled with the recent announcement of several multimillion US dollar projects.
The Article 13 group said the practice by the government can no longer be tolerated.
The group reminded that the Constitution provides for the establishment of a five-person Public Procurement Commission which as set out in the Procurement Act includes has a number of responsibilities including “the regulation of the procurement of goods, services …. and to promote fairness and transparency in the procurement process”.
The group has also expressed worry over the failure by the government to appoint the three persons who will constitute the Public Procurement Tribunal to hear appeals from persons who believe that they were unfairly treated with their bids for procurement contracts.
“To add insult to injury, the Ali Administration, in violation of the Constitution and the PPC Act, gets its Cabinet to issue a farcical and fictitious “no objection” to a Build-Own-Operate Transfer (BOOT) Agreement for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP), secretly negotiated by its own Government! That the Ali Administration does not know or pretends not to know, that the Procurement Act permits an objection by the Cabinet only if it determines that a procuring entity has failed to comply with applicable procurement procedures is frightening for the country’s governance and for the public purse and poses a real and grave threat to the rule of law,” the group said in a statement over the weekend.
The group also said the glaring constitutional and statutory breaches indicate a reckless disregard for the Constitution and the laws of the country and made it clear that it will hold the President, his Government, the Opposition, the Speaker as well as the National Assembly responsible for the ‘egregious’ situation.
“And we hereby put the Government on notice that unless the issue of the Public Procurement Commission and the Tribunal is resolved promptly, Article 13 will take the necessary action, legal and otherwise, to restore constitutionality and the rule of law,” the group threatens.
Last week during a press conference, Opposition Leader Joe Harmon raised similar concerns.
At that time Mr. Harmon accused the government of handing out state contracts only to a select group of persons since the government controls the process.
He accused Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo of overseeing the process and awarding contracts as he sees fit.
The Vice President has not responded to the claims.