MONTEGO BAY — A US$1.2 million (approximately $102 million) e-procurement technical agreement was signed between the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on Tuesday April 12.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator the Hon Arthur Williams, signed on behalf of the government, while IDB representative in Jamaica, Ancile Brewster, signed on behalf of the bank.
This was done at the opening ceremony of the first Caribbean Collaborative Regional Procurement Workshop, at the Ritz Carlton Golf and Spa Resort, Montego Bay. The two-day workshop is being held under the theme, “Cooperation and Integration, the Path to Government Procurement Development in the Caribbean”. It aims to strengthen Caribbean participation in the Inter-American Network of Government Procurement, and support the development of procurement policies and procedures in the region.
According to Mr. Brewster, IDB support for procurement in the Caribbean has been unstinting over the years, with an equally long association with Jamaica in promoting efficiency and equity in the process.
He said that the IDB is fully engaged with the Government in wide reforms based, essentially, on fiscal and economic consolidation and stabilization.
“We have identified the strengthening of public financial performance management, as one of the key pillars to ensuring that public resources are efficiently and equitable used,” he said. He added that part of the support being provided for Jamaica, in terms of loans and grants, is for the creation of a state of the art public procurement system.
“The resources of this technical cooperation, the combined value of both the resources provided by the GOJ and the IDB, total just about $1.2 million, and much of the resources will go towards establishing the e-performance, e-bidding platform, which has significant advantages,” he stated.
He insisted that an e-bidding platform has the capacity to make procurement a lot more efficient, and more equitable. He said training and public education are two areas of focus under the technical agreement.
Senator Williams, in declaring the workshop open, noted that the government is fully committed to modernizing the procurement system. He also noted the continuing comprehensive restructuring and institutional strengthening of the procurement framework, to align the system to reflect international best practices.
“One important feature of the new regulations is the establishment of the Procurement Appeals Board, that will operate as an entity independent of the procurement process, that will hear contractor complaints,” he pointed out.
He also made mention of the revision of the Procurement Procedures Handbook now taking place, the institution of ethical standards for procurement staff across the public sector, and moves to involve micro, small and medium size businesses in the procurement process, as initiatives being pursued by the government with a view to improving the process.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter