APNU/AFC manifesto promise…keeps ‘no objection’ roleCabinet will retain its ‘no objection’ role in the award of contracts, something which it had persistently lobbied against while in Opposition and which it had promised to changed once elected to Government.This is apparent as there seems to be some amount of contradiction between Government and the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) about its role to givePresident David Granger and members of the PPC“no objection” to contracts, something, Government said the recently established body would be tasked with.Coming out in defence of its work and responding to reports in the media, the PPC said it needed to clear the “misconceptions” about its real functions as a recently established procurement body.According to the body, recent media reports have contributed to the notion that the PPC has not yet commenced its work, resulting in the continuing role of Cabinet in the national procurement system, whereby it issues “No Objection” to the award of contracts.However the body said that since its establishment in October last, it has been carrying out some basic preliminary works, required by the Constitution before it could begin carrying out its mandate, which incidentally does not include the granting of “no objections” to contracts.These included, the election of a Chairperson, followed by discussions with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the benefits and conditions of service for the Commissioners, the determination of a staff structure for the establishment of a Secretariat, including the preparation of the terms and conditions of the proposed staff, of which, the three principal officers require the approval of the National Assembly”.It said in pursuit of this mandate, Commissioners have been meeting almost daily, and in the absence of a fixed office.It continued that following a detailed review of the applicable legislative framework, it engaged several stakeholders within the national procurement system to sensitise them to the role and functions of the PPC. In this regard, members of the Commission said it interfaced and held discussions with more than 100 public officials from several agencies and departments that function in the public procurement system and deal directly with procurement matters.Seeking to give clarity, the PPC laid out its functions and responsibilities, which it said are set out in Article 212AA (1) a) to m) of the Constitution, as well as, Section 17 (2) of the Procurement Act, Chapter 73:05. They are to monitor and review the functioning of all public procurement systems to ensure that they are in accordance with law and such policy guidelines as may be determined by the National Assembly; promote awareness of the rules, procedures and special requirements of the procurement process among suppliers, constructors and public bodies; safeguard the national interest in public procurement matters, having due regard to any international obligations; monitor the performance of procurement bodies with respect to adherence to regulations and efficiency in procuring goods and services and execution of works; approve of procedures for public procurement, disseminate rules and procedures for public procurement and recommend modifications thereto the public procurement entities; monitor and review all legislation, policies and measures for compliance with the objects and matters under its purview and report the need for any legislation to the National Assembly; monitor and review the procurement procedures of the ministerial, regional, and national procurement entities as well as those of project execution units; investigate complaints from suppliers, contractors and public entities and propose remedial action; investigate cases of irregularity and mismanagement, and propose remedial action; initiate investigations to facilitate the effective functioning of public procurement systems; enlist the aid of such persons, as may be necessary, to assist the Commission with expert advice; liaise with and refer matters to the Police and the Auditor General; and do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of the functions of the Commission.Earlier this month, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that PPC is still inactive as it still was in the process of recruiting competent employees and that Cabinet would stop granting its no-objection when the PPC is ready to work.“Once they say to us ‘we are ready to function’, then Cabinet will cease doing anything, but since these are public infrastructural projects that need to be executed, we cannot just sit and wait,” the Minister of State posited.“Once the PPC indicates that they are ready, and then Cabinet will pull back,” he emphasised. Harmon also admitted that though the PPC has been inactive, the Commissioners have been receiving their salaries.Reports indicate that PPC Chairperson Carol Corbin is receiving $1.3 million monthly, while the other Commissioners are earning some $900,000 per month.The other Commissioners are Nanda Gopaul, Emily Dodson, Ivor English, and Sukrishnalall Pasha.The PPC statement comes days after Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said it is deeply disappointed over the omission of the Procurement Commission to assume its constitutional mandate and discharge its statutory functions.The Party said the Procurement Act provides that once the Commission is established, Cabinet’s no-objection role in the awarding of contracts ceases.
VANCOUVER – Canada and the U.S. led calls Tuesday for the global community to step up its enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, even as they urged Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and embrace a more peaceful future.The demands followed a day of closed-door talks in which foreign ministers and senior diplomats from 20 countries strategized ways to end North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and force it back to the negotiating table.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the meeting’s co-hosts, were united during a closing news conference in emphasizing that a nuclear-armed North Korea would never be accepted.Diplomacy is the preferred option, they said, as Freeland promised that “a North Korea that commits to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear program will have a secure place in the international community.”But both also emphasized the need for continued pressure on Pyongyang through the rigorous enforcement of UN sanctions, especially by North Korea’s two most important allies and neighbours: China and Russia.“We agree that the need for UN member states, especially China and Russia, to fully implement agreed-upon sanctions is essential to their success,” Tillerson said.The U.S. last year sanctioned several Chinese companies and individuals for their alleged involvement in helping North Korea skirt sanctions, while both Russia and China have been accused of exporting oil to Pyongyang.The two countries, neither of which were invited to the Vancouver meeting, have previously denied the charges and criticized Tuesday’s gathering as potentially harmful to peace prospects on the Korean peninsula.To help close the gaps in enforcement, Freeland said the Canadian government had earmarked $3.2 million to help other countries with training and other technical assistance, and that it would raise the issue during the G7 summit.One of the questions heading into the meeting was whether participants would endorse a U.S. call for naval interdiction of North Korean shipping, following concerns about smuggling.While participating nations agreed to take a tougher line, Tillerson said, the results were not expected to result in military action but instead see illicit North Korean goods identified and seized when ships stop in ports of call.Canada and the U.S. called Tuesday’s meeting in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and ballistic-missile tests, which have rattled the international community and thrust North Korea to the top of the list in terms of global crises.Asked how serious the threat of war with North Korea actually is, Tillerson replied: “We all need to be very sober and clear-eyed about the current situation.”The majority of the 20 countries were invited to the meeting because of their support for South Korea during the Korean War more than 50 years ago.Participants were largely united in their belief that efforts to isolate North Korea and stop its sources of income were starting to bite, which they argued is what prompted Pyongyang to reach out to Seoul earlier this month.But despite that thawing of relations and resumption of talks between North and South Korea, there was unanimity in the need for real progress on denuclearization before any easing of pressure.“Our message is clear,” Freeland said at the start of the meeting, speaking directly to the North Korean regime.“The pursuit of nuclearization will bring you neither security nor prosperity. Investing in nuclear weapons will lead only to more sanctions and to perpetual instability on the peninsula.”Freeland and others emphasized that they were not seeking regime change, and suggested that by abandoning its nuclear aspirations, Pyongyang would help bring a safer, more prosperous future to its people.Whether that message resonates with Kim Jong Un’s regime will have to be seen, but analysts have long asserted that it sees nuclear weapons as the ultimate guarantor of its survival in any conflict with the U.S.Freeland, meanwhile, dismissed suggestions that U.S. President Donald Trump has made the current standoff with North Korea worse through his public comments.“The source of the threat to the international community, the source of the illegal actions, the source of the nuclearization is North Korea,” she said during the closing news conference.“It is North Korea’s actions which are making us all less safe, and to which we all need to respond as allies and as an international community.”— By Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa, with files from Laura Kane and Geordon Ormand in Vancouver