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Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, MP, contributes to the debate on the motion to consider the Senate amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

National Security procurement still open to scrutiny.

After stiff Opposition criticism on further changes to procurement law where National Security Ministry procurement was concerned, Finance Minister Colm yesterday assured that ministry’s procurement will still face scrutiny from the Procurement Regulator.

And this will occur even though its acquisitions will be exempt from procurement publications to be presented to Parliament.

Imbert gave the assurance after UNC MP Roodal Moonilal criticised further amendments to the procurement framework which Imbert presented in Parliament yesterday .

Other amendments were passed in the Senate on Tuesday with 16 votes . Eight of the nine Independents abstained. The Opposition voted against.

Imbert yesterday presented further changes to exempt National Security procurement involving Government- to-Government arrangements from the law .

This was to prevent compromise of T&T’s national security . The word “emergency” was also added to medical services under the procurement law. This was to prevent delays in seeking service where lives are at stake.

But Moonilal said the changes were “frightening” and Government was destroying the law’s integrity and due diligence process.

He said billions are spent on National Security procurement of items- from uniforms and CCTV cameras to vessels and helicopters – and that ministry has the largest budget .

He felt there would be no opportunity to probe procurement of whatever was supplied to the Ministry’s agencies . “The Opposition cannot support these changes, we’re in a closed season for open government,”

Imbert slammed the accusations, “Whenever that MP talks it’s vicious untruths! A tissue of untruth .Look! Don’t let me say something bad here today, eh! – I’m so annoyed!”

Imbert said while NS procurement would be exempted from publication in procurements reports,it would still be open to interrogation by the procurement regulator. Imbert also dismissed Moonilal’s view that the amendments had “scraped “ through in the Senate . Imbert said it was passed with 16 votes and the Independents didn’t vote against it.