Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Peter Turnquest announced that this Government administration is keeping its promise to bring greater accountability, transparency, and modernity to the Bahamas Government by changing how persons and businesses bid for Government purchasing opportunities, otherwise known as Procurement. Procurement will move from a very paper-based time-consuming process to an online automated system that utilizes standardized forms, with clearly defined evaluation criteria. Interested bidders can prepare and submit documents through the online portal, which will be known as the E-Tendering and Supplier Registrar System.
During a press conference at his office on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, DPM Turnquest explained how the re-development of the Government’s Procurement process will allow it to align its procurement activities and systems with international standards and practices. “More importantly, these initiatives will leap the country forward in terms of having transparent and accountable use of public resources that will ultimately expand opportunities for a greater number of Bahamian businesses and save taxpayers some money in the process.”
The DPM said the Government is a major procurer of goods, works and services in the country, spending in excess of $1.475 billion to deliver public services. “This underscores the importance of having in place effective, fair and efficient procurement arrangements, to ensure that the best value is obtained for the monies being spent.” He also noted that it also reinforces the need for transparency and accountability in how these transactions are conducted. He said the Government is committed to establishing the appropriate frameworks to achieve this goal. “We are well advanced in the update to the 2010 Public Procurement Bill and intend very early next year to introduce a brand new procurement bill 2018 for the consideration of Parliament. This bill will call for the establishment of a fully digital procurement platform and its attendant electronic Vendor Registry System.”
DPM Turnquest explained that the enactment of the Public Procurement Bill 2018 scheduled for early in the upcoming year will strengthen the regulatory framework around Government Procurement. It will provide, inter alia for:
· The establishment of a public procurement department;
· Establishment of a public procurement board; and
· The appointment of a Public Review Tribunal to give recourse to persons who believe that there has been an injustice rendered to them during the tendering process.
He said, “The benefits of this new architecture go beyond just the logistical and operational aspects of the acquisition of goods and services for qualified vendors. “Consistent with our election pledge, this enabling mechanism affords even the smallest vendors an opportunity to participate in business opportunities with the Government, creating substantial new opportunities for Bahamian small businesses.” The DPM said the reforms support and deliver greater accountability, transparency, and efficiency with its service providers going forward, hence the need for an awareness campaign. He said all qualifying Bahamian businesses will be able to register to do business consistent with their qualifications. Moreover, all persons visiting the portal will be able to view business opportunities, know all the offers available, monitor the process and see who is awarded contracts and at what price, and the justification behind the award.
Through these reforms, the Government is also providing increased opportunities for small and medium-sized Bahamian businesses to participate in national procurement initiatives, which is supportive of their growth and the invaluable role they play in job creation. Entrepreneurs and companies should register their businesses through the online Vendor Registry, to be found at www.bahamas.gov.bs/
The portal is set to launch February 5 and so persons interested in providing goods and services to the Government should update their documents (including tax compliance certificates) to be ready.