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‘Procurement is everybody’s business’
With firetrucks being towed at a cost of $6.5 million and questions about SNC-Lavalin deals being hot topics, the upcoming conference on “A Proper Procurement Framework as a Tool For National Development,” is not just timely but “relevant and important.” So said attorneys Terence Milne and Ronald Boynes, both members of the organisation Anointed Professionals Exhibiting Excellence (Apex), the facilitators of the conference to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on July 6.
Apex believes the issue of procurement is everybody’s business. It is important for people in the private sector as well as those who do business with the State. And since the Government is the largest employer in the country and the purchaser of the largest amount of goods and services using taxpayers’ dollars, it is hoped that the average citizen would realise the importance of procurement and how they can be directly affected—it is about accountability.
“Having a proper procurement regime, a proper procurement framework, a proper procurement legislation in place will ensure that there will be proper accountability, transparency and accountability, meaning there will not be shifting of blames or pointing of fingers. There will be a clear demarcation of the lines of authority, who has sign-off on the documents, a full structural approach,” Milne said.
It is about having guidelines in place to facilitate and protect employees. “When you can say here are the guidelines, there will be no muddying of waters if you wish. If there are guidelines available then someone can sit in an office and follow those guidelines without fear of having to answer for their actions. If you know you have set procedures that must be followed then that helps everybody. When you have guidelines people can better understand how to go about doing things,” he said.
The outdated act
They contend that the present Central Tenders Board Act of 1967 is cleary outdated. “The act, quite frankly, never contemplated the amount of special purpose companies that tend to operate outside of its purview, it doesn’t contemplate certain arrangements like government to government arrangements. Some institutions like, I think the army, may be outside its purview, and the army of course procures a lot of goods and service,” Boynes said.
What do you mean by appearing outside of its purview? “What I mean is, and this of course I would have gotten from talking to some of the experts, the army has a large budget to purchase, to do construction, for ammunition, whatever they need to purchase. Strictly speaking, I think their activities are outside of the purview of even the Central Tenders Board Act,” he said.
Boynes made a point of stating that neither Milne nor himself were procurement specialists, but were merely facilitators of the conference.
“We at Apex are pleased to facilitate this discussion conference by presenting some of the foremost experts in the field of procurement law and procurement policy. In fact the draft legislation which is now before the Joint Select Committee of Parliament was put together by some of the persons on the panel. So we are dealing with high powered experts who will lend their expertise to educate and inform the public about procurement.”
Who will talk
Expected to present at the conference are former JCC head, Winston Riley, who will speak on Developmental Issues and Procurement in T&T; JCC president Afra Raymond on Needs Assessment and Procurement in T&T; president of the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) Boyd Reid; certified fraud examiner Stephon Grey on Conducting Effective Procurement investigations, and attending all the way from Australia will be procurement legal expert Carla Herbert.
With more than 200 active members who span five major fields of professional experience—education, medicine, business, public service and the legal system—Apex was born out of the need for an official body to act as a mentor to encourage professionals to carry out their duties in an ethical manner.
On November 2010, Apex was officially launched, and it was the first time that an organisation was launched specifically to help educate professionals on ethical values. The Christian professionals said they remain optimistic that the group will make a positive difference in T&T. Justice Joan Charles is the chairman.
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