Major changes are to be made to the processes and rules governing public sector procurement procedures that will transform the Central Purchasing Department into a virtual regulatory body, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has disclosed.
Sinckler told journalists on the sidelines of the third Sub-Regional Caribbean Public Procurement Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre Monday that legislation to that effect was “pretty advanced” and should go before the House of Assembly before the end of this year.
He said the changes were part of Government’s reform of the public management system and would create key governance rules for procurement, while decentralizing the operational aspect.
“What we are doing is, we don’t want to stop ministries from procuring, but have standard rules across all ministries which are then regulated so to speak, by Central Purchasing. So Central Purchasing becomes more of a regulating department with new rules governing procurement,” he explained.
In his remarks at the conference, Sinckler explained that the proposed changes were expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public procurement system, resulting in savings through competitive prices.
It would also ensure the transparency and integrity, in accordance with the World Trade Organization’s goals, he added.
“A public procurement system that is transparent, effective, and efficient and delivers value-for-money in public expenditure is mandatory for good governance. Its practice must also speak to the concepts of equality of treatment, fairness, consistency and predictability while encouraging wide and unfettered participation by those who seek to access its offerings.
“An inefficient, problematic and abused procurement system can be a major hindrance to economic progress,” the minister told the gathering, which included representatives from 14 Caribbean Community member states, as well as the Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of American States.
He also pointed out that staff would be trained in specialized areas of Government procurement.
The Minister of Finance told the participants that on average Government procurement represented approximately ten to 15 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of an economy.
This, he said, constituted a vital local market as well as a significant portion of international trade.
“This figure is significant enough for our Government to focus considerable attention on its procurement.
“We however also acknowledge that regional and global trends and challenges dictate the advancement or impediment of procurement processes; hence the need for common and liberalizing procurement trade agreements among countries of different means in the world marketplace,” Sinckler said.