2944542
Independent Senator Dr Maria Dillon-Remy giving her contribution in the senate.

Renuka Singh

The amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill was the only reason it received a pass from a lone independent senator.

The amendments are also the only reason it would be accepted by the Chairman of the Office of Procurement Regulation (OPR), Moonilal Lalchan.

Senator Dr Maria Dillon-Remy yesterday defended her decision to vote with the Government on the passage of the Procurement Bill in Senate on Tuesday.

“There was a debate and at the end of the day I thought I should have voted. There were amendments made and in the whole debate in terms of what the concerns were by the Government bench and listening to the participants, I examined what was there and I thought that, with the amendments, I would vote for the Bill,” she said.

The amendments seek to exempt government-to-government and private-public partnership deals from scrutiny.

The amendments also omit legal, financial, accounting and auditing, medical and any other service “as the minister may by order determine (subject to Parliamentary scrutiny)”.

While all other Independent Senators abstained from voting on the Bill, Dillon-Remy stood against the tide and voted for it.

Despite that, Dillon-Remy has refuted the suggestion that she broke ranks with the rest of her Independent Senators.

“It was not the first time I did not go with everybody. In December last year during the time of the marijuana debate, someone asked me why did I abstain when everybody else voted for it. I don’t think I have to do what everyone else is doing,” she said.

In media reports yesterday, fellow Independent Senator Paul Richards was reported as saying that he “has never been so lobbied from both sides” previous to this Bill.

Dillion-Remy said she could not speak to that.

“I cannot say, I really don’t know. But I can say that it was a contentious issue,” she said.

In the build-up to this debate, media reports pinpointed that the passage of the Bill lay within the Independent bench.

“That was a lot of pressure but I could not be swayed by what would people say rather than what I thought was appropriate,” she said.

Lalchan also said that the amendments to the legislation are key to its acceptance.

Lalchan is currently out of the country but logged on to the Senate debate on Tuesday and said he lost connection when it went to the Committee stage.

“I know there was some amendments to Clause 5,” he said.

In the Bill, Clause 5 sought to remove legal, financial accounting, auditing services, medical services or any other service as the minister may order, determine from the remit of the Procurement Regulator.

“From what I understand based on the debate in Senate yesterday (Tuesday), still has substantial parts of 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4,” he said.

Clause 7 and its subsets relates to Government to Government and Public/Private engagements and its reportage to the OPR and to Parliament.

“Those are the two main areas of contention,” he said.

Lalchan said he was also concerned about the addition of Clause 7.5.

“We are concerned because it’s a wide area that is not properly defined. For example, what does legal services, medical services and financial services going to be defined as?” he asked.

“There was no definition associated with it. I understand that the Minister would have made some changes too and narrowed it down,” Lalchan said.