#Freeport, GB, November 30, 2018 – Bahamas – The new, E-Procurement and Supplier Registry, soon to become a national initiative, will not only help to equalize the playing field between small, medium and big businesses when it comes obtaining government contracts, but the government has pledged that a minimum of 20 percent of all its procurement must be won by small businesses.
Making the announcement was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest during the opening of the Ministry of Finance’s E-Procurement reform seminar, which was held at Pelican Bay resort on Thursday, November 29, 2018.
In opening the seminar, as well as officially launching the E-Procurement and Supplier Registry System, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that the whole idea of the reform is to make the process of government procurement transparent and to ensure that there is fairness across the system, so that everyone has an opportunity.
“I know that for most businesses in The Bahamas that I have come across, one of the things that they have been concerned about is fairness and access,” said Minister Turnquest.
“We know how it worked in the past, where if your party is in power you get the contracts and when your party is not in power, you’re out of luck. This system seeks to try to create some balance, some equity and fairness across the system, so that we can take out these kinds of bias.
“If we allow the system to work the way it has been designed to work, it is going to create equity and it will result in savings and GDP business growth for all Bahamians.”
Minister Turnquest said that the Government of The Bahamas is very excited about the Small Business program that has been initiated and which has blossomed in Grand Bahama. He said the program is a very integral entity that is going to help broaden the economic pie in The Bahamas.
“I think we all know that there are those entities, who because of their resources, have been able to corner the market on procurement and economic activities in this country. Through the efforts of the Small Business Development Centre, we are hoping to empower the ordinary Bahamian who doesn’t have a rich parent or some connected source, that they will be able to obtain the kind of support and resources that will allow them to enter the mainstream and compete with the ‘big boys’ and the legacy institutions.
“That is very important. Because as we move into a more modern society and as we have more and more of our young people coming into the sector with very high expectations, it is important that they have an opportunity to compete and fulfill their visions, without unfair bias. So, we are extremely happy with what the Small Business Development Centre is doing, particularly in Grand Bahama.”
The Finance Minister proudly noted that for months, the Ministry of Finance has been engaged in a comprehensive reform effort to transform the entire system of government procurement. He pointed out the tremendous strides forward his Ministry has taken in promoting the initiative, most notably in legislative reform and establishment of the online E-Procurement and Supplier Registry system (E-PSR).
“When we speak of government procurement, we are literally referring to goods and services which central government or state-owned enterprises purchase,” said Minister Turnquest.
“Government procurement accounts for a substantial portion of the Bahamian economy. Naturally, that means that it also accounts for a substantial portion of taxpayer’s money. Rightfully so, taxpayers expect us to carry out public procurement fairly, transparently, efficiently and with high standards of conduct.
“Recognizing the weaknesses in our current system that exposes the government to waste and corruption, the public procurement reform that is currently underway is aimed at modernizing the public procurement process, by developing a strong and unified legal framework.
He noted that the development of public procurement legislation is rapidly approaching completion, which has amplified the need for the enhanced awareness-building efforts in Grand Bahama. The Finance Minister said that a test bid of the E-PSR will be launched in January, 2019, using the online system, to ensure that all systems are working.
“We want to make sure that potential Grand Bahamian suppliers are equipped with the tools to fully and comfortably participate in this test bid and more broadly, public procurement in the future,” said Minister Turnquest. “The test bid will give suppliers an opportunity to ensure that they understand how the E-PSR operates before we implement the mandatory use of the E-PSR for all public procurement.
“We have completed drafting the proposed Public Procurement Act, which will be presented to Parliament very shortly.”
According to Minister Turnquest, the proposed legislation will:
- Establish a Department of Public Procurement that will enhance transparency and value for money within the procurement process by providing oversight and accountability.
- Modernize and align procurement practices with international and best practices.
- Establish a public procurement board and review tribunal.
- Establish a fully transparent bidding process, where bids and bid winners are posted on line.
- Define in law the suite of procurement methods. Including competitive bidding, selective bidding, restrictive bidding and limited bidding.
“It represents a revised national framework for all public procurement. Under this new framework, we’ve committed to reserve a portion of national procurement budgets for small businesses, which will benefit entrepreneurs in Freeport and other Family Islands,” added Minister Turnquest.
“The Public Procurement Act will oversee the E-Procurement and Supplier Registry system and all national procurement will be executed through the online procurement and Supplier Registry system in the near future.”
Minister Turnquest stressed the fact that registration will be mandatory for any business seeking to have a contract with the government. He said that the Independent Procurement Review Tribunal will provide recourse for all persons who feel that there has been an injustice in any national procurement process.
By Andrew Coakley
Header: Following the official opening of the E-procurement seminar and launch of the E-procurement and Supplier Registry system, Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Peter Turnquest (centre) answered questions from the media, before the seminar for Ministry of Finance personnel began at the Pelican Bay Resort on Thursday, November 29, 2018. At right is Executive Director of the Small Business Development Centre, Davinia Blair, and, at left, Daniel Ferguson of the Ministry of Finance.
Insert: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest was the keynote speaker during the opening of the E-procurement reform seminar and launch of the E-Procurement and Supplier Registry system at Pelican Bay Resort on Thursday, November 29, 2018.
BIS Photos/Lisa Davis