Regional Procurement System To Be Established

KINGSTON, Sept. 3 (JIS): Jamaica is to benefit from a regional project, aimed at creating a fully functional electronic public procurement system across the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The Regional Integration Electronic Public Procurement System, which is to be implemented across CARICOM member states, is geared towards the liberalisation and integration of the regional market for trade in goods and services.
This involves establishing and maintaining a regime for the free movement of goods and services within the CSME. The programme is being implemented by CARICOM, with funding support from the European Union.
Programme Manager, Caricom Single Market and Economy, CARICOM Secretariat, Ivor Carryl, in an interview with JIS News on September 3, pointed out that Jamaica and other Caribbean states have much to gain from the successful development of such a system, which is expected to be in place by 2016.
Mr. Carryl is in the island attending a two-day consultative forum, being held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston from September 3 to 4 with representatives from both the public and private sectors, to discuss recommendations for the project.
He informed that a regional approach to public sector procurement, supported by a regional procurement system, can bring many benefits to the Caribbean region, and can be one of the key pillars for the advancement of the Caribbean integration process and the CSME.
“You are looking at a market that is somewhere in the vicinity of US$17 billion annually and for a region of five and half a million people (with the exception of Haiti), that’s a lot of money,” he added.
“In fact, government is one of the biggest single sectors in every economy in CARICOM, so if you want to boost intra-regional trade, and for each country to generate business and create employment, one of the solutions is to open the market for government procurement,” Mr. Carryl said.
He noted that this will allow contractors and suppliers across the region to compete openly and equitably for contracts in other member states, in addition to what they have at home.
The Programme Manager further informed that ground work for the project is underway, with considerable research and background work being undertaken by the CARICOM Secretariat, the CSME Unit and various member state representatives.
This has resulted in many notable achievements and outputs, including the formation of the Regional Taskforce on Procurement and the development of the Framework Regional Integration Policy (FRIP) on Procurement.
He noted that the EU has provided funding of some €600,000 for the first phase of the project.
Mr. Carryl informed that significant work is still to come, particularly with regard to improving legislation across the region to harmonise government procurement procedures.
A reform of the procurement systems and processes in every country where the project is to be implemented will also be undertaken, as well as the installation of relevant IT hardware and software and the training of required personnel.
Mr. Carryl noted that one of the important hurdles to be overcome for full implementation of the programme will be the need to ensure that every country has legislation that allows transactions of this type to be done electronically.
“What we have been doing is checking on each country’s situation to gather what is the general situation in terms of legislation,” he said.
“Many states up to this point still operate with Finance and Administration Acts, rather than a procurement law. Several of them do have an Electronic Transactions Act, but it may not speak specifically to procurement in the public domain. So, one of the things that CARICOM is responsible for doing under the project is to prepare the protocol and the supporting implementing law and rules,” he further explained.
It is anticipated that feedback from the two-day forum will help to address some of the challenges and opportunities the proposed system may present to contractors and suppliers in the use of a regional electronic platform.
Similar consultations will be held in Barbados on September 9 and St. Lucia on September 12.

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