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Oct 18, 2017

Why Finance and Audit Act Did Not Apply

Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister opened the conference by specifically challenging the charge that the Finance and Audit Act was violated by the use of the selective tendering process rather than open tendering. He also defended against claims that the contract should have immediately gone to the National Assembly for review.  The Act, said Barrow, provides that there is a month’s lag for submission and that even if the contract is not accepted blame would not lay on the contractor. But the Act, he added, had no such provision for an obligation to employ open tendering.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The contract referred to in subsection five shall be laid by the Minister on the table of both Houses of the National Assembly within one month of its execution” – there’s no requirement that you go to the House before. “Each House of the National Assembly shall examine the contract and other documents submitted to the House by the Minister, in order for the House to determine whether the contract complies with subsection five” – the open tendering procedure. “But if such contract does not comply with that subsection, such non-compliance shall not prejudice the rights of the other party to the contract, unless the other party knew before entering into the contract that it did not comply with the requirements of the subsection.” So the first point: there has been no violation of the Finance and Audit Act by the failure to go to the House before the signing of the contract, because there is no such requirement that that be done. And with respect to the requirement that once the open tendering procedure is used, you go to the House within a month after the signing – of course, if you don’t use the open tendering procedure, then you don’t go to the House; because the purpose of going to the House is for both chambers to determine whether there has been proper compliance with the open tendering procedure; but you are not obliged to use the open tendering procedure. If you go on and you read further in the Finance and Audit Act, you will see that section twenty-one has as its marginal note, limited tendering procedure. “The Government shall use the limited tendering procedure for procurement or sale in the following circumstances” – and I skip to the one that’s most relevant for us – “where for reasons of extreme urgency, brought about by events unforeseeable by the Government, or in the public interest, the goods or services, one, cannot be procured in time using the open tendering procedure or the selective tendering procedure.”

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