OPPOSITION LEADER RESPONDS TO COMMENTS BY ATTORNEY GENERAL RYAN PINDER ON PROCUREMENT LAW

Aug 14, 2022

The Opposition is beyond disappointed – but unfortunately not surprised – that the Attorney General, Ryan Pinder, wouldseek to mislead the Bahamian public on the Public Procurement Act (PPA) in comments attributed to him by the press during his recent press conference this past Thursday, 11th August 2022.

Parroting the false information previously stated in the past by the Prime Minister, the AG repeated the lie that the PPA does not give the flexibility to the government to deal with urgent matters or emergencies.

It is clear that the AG and the Prime Minister have either not read the Act or they have decided to deliberately mislead the public. Either of these is a dereliction of duty and raises serious concerns capacity to function effectively.

Section 34 of the Public Procurement Act speaks to what is called “Limited Bidding” and it lays out how the governmentcan engage a single vendor to do work when the circumstances so demands. In Section 34 (c), it expressly grants permission to the government to use limited bidding in instances of emergencies or other exigencies when a full procurement process would not be feasible.

So we do not understand why the AG and the Prime Minister would mislead the public to think that the PPA is stopping the government from responding to any urgent matter when it is patently clear that the PPA anticipates these inevitable situations and gives the government the flexibility to deal with the same.

What is plainly true is that the government does not WANT to trouble itself with fair and open and transparent bidding processes for the vast majority of works that are not urgent matters. They want to be able to dish out large and small contracts to their cronies for purely political ends.

Neither the AG nor the Prime Minister can or would explain why the government continues to break the law and not publish the summary details of all relevant contracts as required by the law.

Neither the AG nor the Prime Minister can or would explain why the government Authorities

and Corporations are continuing to break the law and not publish its procurement guidelines online, nor publish who has obtained contracts from these State-owned entities.

As for plans to modify the PPA, the Opposition reminds the government that the PLP unanimously supported the PPA when it came to Parliament. Why was the legislation fine with them then?

The government is free of course to bring an amended PPA to Parliament to make any necessary operational improvements. However, we remind the Davis Administration that on behalf of the Bahamian people, we will not support ANY attempt to lessen the requirements for open and transparent bidding where all qualified Bahamian individuals and companies will be able to participate. We will not support any Cabinet Minsters doling out contracts to their cronies outside of a competitive framework.

We will also NOT support any attempt to lessen the transparency requirements in which – like other jurisdictions – this government MUST publish the summary details of who has obtained a government contract, for what purpose and for what amount.

We reiterate our demand that the government follow the law as it exists presently and open the contract bidding process to all qualified Bahamian firms and publish the contracts that it has awarded. END

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