Procurement Commission dispels claims of it being non-functional

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It has been said earlier this month by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at a Post Cabinet media conference that members of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) are being paid their full salaries which amounted to Millions of dollars, despite not being operational. However, the Commission on Friday noted that this is untrue as it has been functioning despite several impediments.

The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) in a statement on Friday noted that there seems to be a significant misunderstanding of its role and functions and it became functional immediately after the appointment of the Commissioner.

The PPC said there are however, several impediments to its full operation including the absence of appropriate office accommodation and adequate budgetary resources.

“Commissioners have been meeting almost daily, and in the absence of a fixed Office have had to use various locations including, the Committee Rooms of the National Assembly of the Parliament and, since the 2017 Budget Debate, the Conference Room of the Critchlow Labour College,” it noted.

However, the PPC disclosed that it has been finalizing of the structure for the establishment of the Secretariat of the Commission.

Other impediments highlighted were transition of functions from the National Procurement and Tender Administration (NPTA) and requisite staffing of the Secretariat of the Commission.

Section 17 (2) of the Procurement Act enables the NPTA to carry out certain functions of the PPC until its establishment and this is the first time one such commission has been established, thus the need for the transferral of responsibilities.

In this regard, it was noted that the process of the recruitment of the Chief Executive Officer/Secretary of the Commission and the two most senior officers is well advanced. A report on the selection of the suitable candidates for these posts has been submitted to the National Assembly and the Commission awaits the approval of their terms and conditions by the National Assembly as required by the constitution.

Already the commissioners pointed out that they have engaged several stakeholders within the national procurement system to sensitize them to the role and functions of the PPC including more than one hundred public officials from several agencies and departments that function in the public procurement system and deal directly with procurement matters.

As required by the Constitution of Guyana, the Commission has also received and reviewed complaints from contractors.

It also sought to clarify reports suggesting that the continued role of Cabinet is linked to the PPC being “operational and functional” noting that such a claim is inaccurate and misleading as neither the Constitution nor the Procurement Act provides for the PPC to take over this function from the Cabinet in granting “no objection” to contracts.

The five members of the Commission are Emily Dodson, Carol Corbin (Chairperson), Sukrishnalall Pasha, Ivor Burnette English and former Labour Minister, Dr Nanda Gopaul.

Reports in the media had revealed that Corbin’s salary as chairperson is approximately $1.3M plus security, while Dr Gopaul as the vice chair, receives about $1.1 M plus telephone allowances. The other commissioners earn at least $900,000 per month.The report also noted that the commissioners are entitled to duty-free concessions, entertainment allowances and a telephone allowance of about $10,000 each.

Functions of the Commission, as set out in Article 212AA. (1) a) to m) of the Constitution, as well as, Section 17 (2) of the Procurement Act, Chapter 73:05 are provided below:

  • monitor and review the functioning of all public procurement systems to ensure that they are in accordance with law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the National Assembly;
  • promote awareness of the rules, procedures and special requirements of the procurement process among suppliers, constructors and public bodies;
  • safeguard the national interest in public procurement matters, having due regard to any international obligations;
  • monitor the performance of procurement bodies with respect to adherence to regulations and efficiency in procuring goods and services and execution of works;
  • approve of procedures for public procurement, disseminate rules and procedures for public procurement and recommend modifications thereto the public procurement entities;
  • monitor and review all legislation, policies and measures for compliance with the objects and matters under its purview and report the need for any legislation to the National Assembly;
  • monitor and review the procurement procedures of the ministerial, regional, and national procurement entities as well as those of project execution units;
  • investigate complaints from suppliers, contractors and public entities and propose remedial action;
  • investigate cases of irregularity and mismanagement, and propose remedial action;
  • initiate investigations to facilitate the effective functioning of public procurement systems;
  • enlist the aid of such persons, as may be necessary, to assist the Commission with expert advice;
  • liaise with and refer matters to the police and the Auditor General; and
  • do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of the functions of the Commission.

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