Prime Minister the Hon Gaston Browne has outlined a new policy for the procurement of goods and services for the government.
During his wrap up of the presentation of the 2017 budget debate on Monday, the Prime Minister announced a series of initiatives aimed at ensuring that the government gets best value for money and to guard against corrupt government contracting in this area.
He said the government in 2016 contracted a specialist from the Commonwealth Secretariat who provided technical assistance to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of public procurement within the public service. He said the specialist assisted in shaping the pillars which the government now uses in the procurement process.
“We brought in Mr. Phillip Adams, he was commissioned on a four month assignment as a procurement consultant to the government of Antigua and Barbuda and he assisted in shaping the pillars to constructively improve the procurement process, most significantly is the prioritize recognition of access to government procurement as a developmental tool.
One of the things we want to do is to spread government’s procurement rather than to have a small cadre of people literally monopolizing government’s procurement so that the example where I gave Mr. Speaker, someone who has no experience in road construction, curbs and drains construction, that that person cannot team up with a corrupt government minister and get 30 million in contracts…these are the systems we’re putting in place to ensure that there is no repeat of such situations,” he said.
PM Browne said the Procurement and Contract Management Act of 2011 will be replacing the Tenders Board Act, which currently provides an oversight in regulation for public procurement across the public service. He added however that the government will be reviewing every aspect of the Act in order to ensure a successful and smooth transition of procurement systems.
“At the core of our consideration is to enure that our efforts guarantee development prospects, providing fair and equitable opportunity to the widest cross section of vendors so that they make significant strides within the economy. So we’re not going to go around and tll people “support me and we’re gonna make you a multi billionaire” we don’t do business like that…we’ll say to you that we will broaden the scope to uplift as many people as possible,” the PM noted.
He said the modern procurement system will not only benefit small and large businesses and will by extension have an extensive economic impact in the country. According to the PM this is in contrast to how the previous system operated under the former government.
“A modern procurement system will not only ensure wider access to our domestic vendors but also target initiatives from entrepreneurs and otherwise marginalize other areas of society who will actively benefit from procurement opportunities irrespective of the company size or depth of experience. The economic impact of procurement is undeniably large as it constitutes approximately 106 million in capital and 140 million in goods and services giving a total of 246 million,” he said.