Kamla: Court action on procurement law continues

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left: Oppostion Senator Wade Mark, UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, UNC activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj and Senator Jerlean John at a media conference at Persad-Bissessar’s Siparia constituency office, Penal, on Friday. – Lincoln Holder

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said legal action taken by party activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj with respect to the Procurement Act, will not be derailed by a proposed sitting of the House of Representatives on July 19.

Maharaj has initiated legal action against Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, and Finance Minister Colm Imbert with respect to two legal notices that granted exemptions under the act.

They are legal notices 206 and 164.

Addressing a news conference at her constituency office on Friday, Persad-Bissessar said the pre-action protocol letters issued by Maharaj’s attorneys to Armour and Imbert, require a response by 4 pm on July 17.

Those letters were issued on July 10 and 12.

Persad-Bissessar said, “Both these pre action letters concern Government’s illegal actions under the hand of the Minister of Finance to issue these orders exempting foreign services from the application of the procurement legislation.”

Notice 206 dealt with exemptions for the Caricom heads of government meeting which took place in Port of Spain from July 3 to 5.

Persad-Bissessar said legal notice 164 dealt with exemptions from the procurement act for the Judiciary.

“Nobody knew of that. It came like a thief in the night. We don’t know what they spent the money on, how they spent the money for the Judiciary.”

The exemption for the Judiciary, Persad-Bissessar continued, came at a time when concerns have been raised about “close relationships between the Government and close relatives of members of the Judiciary.”

She recalled that recently two judges had to recuse themselves because of close relationships between their relatives and members of the government.

Persad-Bissessar said, “It is very concerning that they are doing exemptions secretly, contrary to law, releasing monies for the Judiciary.”

She added, “We strongly object to this high-handed dictatorial behaviour by the Prime Minister.”

Both letters have a deadline of 4 pm on July 17 for a response.

Persad-Bissessar said if no response comes by that time, “We are in the courthouse tomorrow morning (July 18).”

She added that the Government continues to act on what appears to be bad advice from Armour, regarding legal matters.

Persad-Bissessar also questioned if the amendments which Government plan to bring to Parliament next week would grant any entity an amnesty from full compliance with the procurement law.