Once more the situation with the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and its functioning has come to the fore and is prominent in the news. Since the author had quite a bit to do with this, therefore, it is important to once more set the record straight.
When the PPP/C government placed the PPC Bill before the National Assembly, the ‘no objection’ role of Cabinet was part of that Bill.
The then opposition railed against this and suggested strongly that Cabinet’s role be removed. It was on the floor that this was done. The then Attorney General, Doodnauth Singh, Khenraj Ranjattan and lawyers from the
Opposition, including Winston Murray, had a side bar and removed the role of Cabinet.
Therefore, the intention of the framers should not be in doubt.
I also recall that when the PPP/C moved in the National Assembly to establish that body, it was hindered by the then opposition, which tried to manipulate the process to get the majority on the Board.
They even demanded to have the chairmanship of the PPC at one stage.
At the level of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), where these maneuvers were taking place, the PPP/C was having none of that.
The PNC/R stuck to its position, refusing to compromise and that prevented the setting up of the PPC.
After the 2011 elections, the issue was raised again. This time, the joint opposition had a one seat majority in the National Assembly. They were demanding that it be established. This time, their bargaining position had improved. They appeared not to want any recommendation from the PPP/C.
They used their one seat majority in the Assembly to frustrate all of the then government’s development projects.
They railed against the Marriott Hotel; they frustrated the beginning of the Amaila Falls Hydro project. They voted in the National Assembly to cut the budgets of the Ministry of works, stymieing the establishment of new airstrips in the interior and even voted against the establishment of a Specialty Hospital, which was aimed at advancing our health services by leaps and bounds.
The APNU/AFC was not only being anti-developmental, but also deliberately putting our country in harm’s way. They seemed to have wanted to make the economy ground to a halt.
Their refusal to pass the Anti-Money Laundering Bill was aimed at damaging the financial sector and the economy as a whole.
Further, the APNU/AFC members of the National Assembly voted against the Amendments to the Environmental Tax Act, which would have allowed a level playing field for local and regional companies. This was fulfilling Guyana’s commitment to CARICOM. That would have settled the case brought by the Rudisa Company, which claimed that the tax was discriminatory.
This anti-nationalist act by the APNU/AFC cost our country more than one billion dollars.
Even in such hostile circumstances, the PPP/C administration tried to make compromises in relation to enacting the PPC.
It was proposed that we establish the PPC, however, to allow cabinet to retain its ‘no objection.’
This was proposed because of the hostile attitude of the APNU/AFC towards the government’s projects.
The then opposition parties refused and adamantly demanded that Cabinet’s role be completely removed.
Therefore, all the talk about things not being clear is just a mere roost for the APNU regime to renege on that position now.
There should be no doubt of the intent.
Cabinet’s role should be removed completely.