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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was expected to deliberate on nominees for the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) when it met on Monday (January 3), but instead its Members trade blame after it was reported that the sub-committee responsible for shortlisting the nominees had not completed its work.
The sub-committee, comprises the Chairman of the PAC, Jermaine Figueira and Government’s Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.
October 2021 marked one year since the Public Procurement Commission expired, and plans to reconstitute it appear to be moving at snail’s pace, though under Article 212 W of the Constitution it is responsible for the monitoring of public procurement with the aim of ensuring that the procurement of goods, services and the execution of works are conducted in a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective manner.
On Monday, Opposition Member of Parliament, Ganesh Mahipaul registered his dissatisfaction over the slothfulness at which the sub-committee is executing its mandate. He said it is unfortunate that the sub-committee, after months of deliberation, cannot submit five nominees for the PAC’s consideration.
“Bring the five names to the committee and let us do what is necessary, and then submit to the Assembly for its approval. I cannot comprehend the time that we are taking to do this; the country needs the Public Procurement Commission,” MP Mahipaul said.
David Patterson, another Opposition MP, said the sub-committee was established to accelerate the process of shortlisting nominees for the PPC, however, it has thus far failed to do such.
Weighing in on the matter, Government’s Chief Whip said the sub-committee was not only established to expedite the process but to ensure that at the end of the selection process, it would be received the support of two-thirds of the House.
“The last meeting we had, Mr. Figueira and myself, was left opened for us to consult our principals and come back. I am not aware that Mr. Figueira has consulted his principals or that he has a clear idea of what his party wants,” the Government Chief Whip said.
MP Teixeira said it is important for the two sides to arrive at a position that is acceptable to both Government and Opposition.
However, the Chair of the PAC told the Committee that he attempted to make contract with the Government Chief Whip on numerous occasions but to no avail.
“Many calls were unanswered; many texts were answered late, and so those proposed meetings could not have been met. So I am always readily available for us to meet to bring this issue to finality,” MP Figueira explained.
The Chair said he is prepared to meet with the Government Chief Whip on Wednesday to finalize the nominees. “Guyana is willing and ready for a Public Procurement Commission to be set up. The Opposition is ready for this to be set up, and I strongly believe that the Government is pussyfooting around the issue, and it is time we bring this to a finality and stop with the grandstanding,” he said.
Of the more than 20 nominees submitted, the sub-committee had shortlisted eight, however, it has to reduce that number to 5.