A historic, unanimous parliamentary vote, past midnight in the chambers of the National Assembly during Monday’s Sitting before the recess; saw the adoption of the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The report recommended five persons identified to be members of the long awaited Public Procurement Commission (PPC).
The committee chaired by Member of Parliament (MP) Irfaan Ali nominated, from a shortlist of 12 persons, Emily Dodson, Carol Corbin, Sukrishnalall Pasha, Ivor B. English and Dr. Nanda K. Gopaul to be members of the PPC.
“It is with pride that I commend to this honourable House the five nominees of the PAC for the PPC for adoption, and I would like to do so, sir, in the memory of the late Winston Shripaul Murray who fought valiantly for the coming into being of the PPC,” Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence told the National Assembly.
Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence speaking on the adoption of the report of the Public Accounts Committee
Addressing the House, Ali acknowledged the efforts of the past and present members of the PAC and congratulated members of the House for, “working tirelessly over the years to arrive at a consensus on this very important issue.”
According to Ali, “Guyana is the first Caricom member state to undertake comprehensive public procurement reforms based on the United Nations Commission on international trade law, and has a well-coordinated procurement system unlike that of many developed nations in which public procurement is regulated by a single individual.”
The PPC Act was passed during the 8th parliament in 2003. The Act required a two- thirds majority vote to accept the nominees selected by the government and opposition, before the commission could come into being. A division of the House saw all present voting in favour of adopting the nominees.
Previous attempts to realise the establishment of the much touted PPC were met with failure.
According to member of the PAC, Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence, after the realisation of the PPC Act in 2003, the PAC immediately established a sub- committee consisting of Donald Ramotar and Lance Carberry to examine the nominees. There were 10 candidates identified. The committee deliberated for three years without agreeing to any nominee, Minister Lawrence stated.
In the 9th parliament, the PAC was chaired by Lawrence who appointed Winston Murray and Komal Chand to identify nominees for the PPC. Emily Dodson was nominated by the then PNCR/One Guyana. After 92 meetings of the select committee, the People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) failed to name its nominees.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo as he addresses the National Assembly
In 2012, the PAC was chaired by Carl Greenidge who sought to have nominees named for the PPC. The Prorogation of the parliament by the Donald Ramotar-led government brought the work of this committee to an end.
At the beginning of the 10th parliament, Irfaan Ali was elected Chairman of the PAC. During November 2015 there were agreements to re-advertise for nominees to the PPC.
A sub-committee comprising Chairman of the PAC, Ali, and Vice Chairperson, Lawrence, was formed and received 29 submissions of which 12 were shortlisted.
In acknowledging the success of this most recent select committee, Lawrence said, “All of Guyana wants to see transparency, accountability and more so a level playing field in the tendering process and today, this new day, all of us, government and opposition, have brought to an end a journey which began some 13 years ago.”
Further, the Minister said, “The APNU + AFC government is proud even though a few months late to fulfill another of its manifesto promise.”
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, leader of Government’s business in the House commended members for the achievement of a unanimous vote.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali addressing the National Assembly
“At long last we have been able to see a glimmer of real bipartisan cooperation and we have in fact entered into history in bringing through the long awaited PPC bill soon to become a law… I am hoping that the cooperation and consensus that we have arrived at today will in fact flow over into the period after recess. Tonight has been one of the more rewarding for me, and I think that we are seeing the contours of a new Guyana, a new cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.