… Commission optimistic for year-end approvalThe Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is optimistic of having new procurement and debarment legislation approved by year end, after the conclusion of a report by a consultant who reviewed the draft laws.PPC Chairperson Carol CorbinThis was communicated during a consultation exercise on Monday at Regency Suites, Georgetown. At the exercise, PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin provided an update on what the Commission has been up to.She related that they were advised in May of 2018 that a consultant was appointed to review the Procurement Act, propose amendments and possibly construct a new act. In addition, she explained that the Commission was brought on board.“The Commission was asked to collaborate with the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board and the Finance Ministry to make propositions to the panel and also the debarment regulations.”She related that the amended regulations were provided to the consultant, who reviewed them and returned them to the Commission. It was further explained that the final report of that consultancy was concluded at the end of September 2018.“The final report of that consultancy was concluded at the end of September 2018. Thus, our current activities will be conducting consultations on what we perceive to be the final draft of the debarment regulations.”“The PPC is, therefore, back on schedule with its programme, starting with this set of consultations,” she said, adding that the goal for regulations to be approved by year-end was a viable one.While there are references in the Procurement Act to the suspension and debarment of errant contractors, Corbin said the required regulations for the debarment process were not included.“No action could have been taken over these years to actually debar or suspend contractors and suppliers, because the relevant supporting regulations do not exist at this time in terms of being approved and included in the legislation.”The PPC is a crucial commission which, among other things, serves as a watchdog against procurement fraud and corruption. It is also supposed to oversee the awarding of public contracts, although Cabinet continues to give its no-objection to such.The Commission, which elected Corbin as its Chairman during its first meeting, also includes Emily Dodson, Ivor English, Nandkishore Gopaul and Sukrishnalall Pasha.A key Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report had recently recommended that countries in the Region, including Guyana, implement a number of measures aimed at improving public procurement.The report, titled “Better spending for better lives: How Latin America and the Caribbean can do more with less”, has identified poor procurement practices as a contributor to wasted public funds.Among its recommendations for countries in the Region is for Governments to avoid single sourced contracts and concentrate on competitive bidding. In fact, it was advised that open tendering be the default method of procurement.In addition, the report advises that Governments in the Region publish annual procurement plans, as part of a comprehensive framework that would set out the Government’s goals and priority areas.