Are You Ready for the Implementation of the Procurement Act in T&T

Procurement act

Pending – the Implementation of the Procurement Act

Are you ready for the implementation of the Procurement  Act 2015, which provides for public procurement, retention and disposal of public property.  This is in accordance with the principles of good governance, namely accountability, transparency, integrity and value for money.  It also establishes the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR), repeals the Central Tenders Board act, chap. 71:91 and covers related matters.

The Regulations for the Procurement Act were passed in the Senate on Tuesday 8th February 2022. This cleared the way for the implementation of the Procurement Act.  The Newsday Newspaper of 9th February, 2022, indicated that Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the Office of the Procurement Regulation will produce guidelines and a handbook to facilitate the transition into the implementation of the Act which will take place within a six-month period. He also made the commitment that he would return to the Senate within that period to make any appropriate amendments to the regulations.

Key Facts about the new system of procurement

The implementation of the Procurement Act will move Trinidad and Tobago from a system of traditional procurement in which the main instrument is tendering  and the Central Tenders Board has no jurisdiction over public private partnership arrangements, to one under the control of the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR) with the Office and Regulator controlling all parts of the procurement and disposal cycle inclusive of retention and all types of procurements not only those of tendering.

But this proposed framework, while ensuring open and effective competition, ethics and fair dealing, and promotion of national industry, also promotes:

  • greater accountability and transparency of expenditure of public money on property and services;
  • greater efficiency of implementation of Government policies within the context of best procurement practice;
  • public confidence in the manner by which Government conducts its business particularly in the acquisition of property and services;
  • ethical conduct of all parties in the procurement process thereby engendering mutual trust and respect
  • the responsibility of Parliament in the procurement process;
  • equal opportunity for bidders and greater confidence in decision making;
  • inclusion of other financial arrangements such as Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT), Build Own Lease Transfer (BOLT), Design Finance Construct (DFC) under the legal and regulatory framework.

Who has to comply with the Procurement Act?

Government agencies-public bodies, agencies/organizations/private individuals (not government employees) who receive and spend public money have to comply with the requirements/objects of the Procurement Act.   This is because of a key term used in it which is Public money.

Public Money” Means Money That Is—

(A) Received Or Receivable By A Public Body;

(B) Raised By An Instrument From Which It Can Be Reasonably Inferred That The State Accepts Ultimate Liability In The Case Of Default;

(C) Spent Or Committed For Future Expenditure, By A Public Body;

(D) Distributed By A Public Body To A Person;

(E) Raised In Accordance With A Written Law, For A Public Purpose; Or

(F) Appropriated By Parliament;

This Term sought to get away from problems whereby the following were not under the purview of the Central Tenders Board and/or which there was little oversight:

  1. New state and other agencies not mentioned in the Central Tenders Board Act or its amendments
  2. Persons/non-government organizations spending public money,
  3. New types of design build and other procurement arrangements.

So public money brings all users of public money under the Act including Non Government Organisations (NGO’s), Faith Based Organizations (FBO’s) and Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) and persons who receive public money for purposes the state will support e.g a person with a house for battered women may apply for assistance from the State.  This excludes employees of the State and other persons e.g. recipient of old age pensions, disability and other benefits. Some measure of exclusion is also made with government-to-government arrangements through amendments to the Procurement Act.

What has changed since the Procurement bill of 2014?

Much has changed since the bill was introduced in 2014.  The government has acted on feedback and this fashioned the Procurement Act of 2015.  The Office of Procurement Regulation created handbooks, guidelines, facilitated training workshops, held sensitization  sessions and pushed for amendments to the Procurement Act.  These actions were all aimed at facilitating the implementation of an Act that was workable in Trinidad and Tobago.

There is still much to be done, but you can judge for yourself by viewing the following blog posts which have been linked to this document hereunder.  Just click on each one.

What is the Responsibility of Public Bodies and those who spend Public Money?

  1. Get familiar with the Public Procurement Act 2015, its amendments and the Regulations to the Act.   The whole of the legislative framework is at this link.
  2. If you are a public body or user of public funds, you should visit the OPR’s sensatisation sessions and in particular the training workshops of 2019.
  3. If you are a supplier/contractor/consultant, you should visit and join the OPR’s procurement depository
  4. If you are intimidated by all the requirements, remember that you can prepare your own Procurement Handbook.  This should reflect your specific organizational arrangements and processes which must be inline with the objects of the Procurement Act.  You have to submit this Procurement handbook to the OPR for its approval/and or feedback.
  5. If you are a public body or spender of public money, you should visit the OPRTT website and its readiness assessment page and download the following documents and study them:

Readiness Assessment Checklist for Public Bodies (PDF)

Roadmap for compliance with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Act 2015 (pdf)

Pictorial roadmap for compliance with the public procurement and disposal of public property Act 2015 (pdf)

Good luck and see you in the next blog on the Procurement Act.-