House Begins Debate on Procurement Bill

Photo: Adrian Walker Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, addresses the House of Representatives on April 11. At left is Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw.

Story Highlights

  • The House of Representatives, on April 11, began debate on the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill that seeks to regulate the procurement of goods, works and services by agencies.
  • Dr. Clarke noted that the Government, as the single biggest spender in Jamaica, is committed to using procurement strategically to drive key polices aimed at creating a pillar for sustainable economic growth and increased economies of scale.
  • He explained that the reform of legislation, policies and systems relating to the business operations of the public sector is intended to provide economic stimulus by enhancing the potential of local industries, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that will be enabled to acquire a more meaningful share of the Government’s procurement contracts.

The House of Representatives, on April 11, began debate on the Public Procurement (Amendment) Bill that seeks to regulate the procurement of goods, works and services by agencies.

The legislation was piloted by Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke.

Dr. Clarke noted that the Government, as the single biggest spender in Jamaica, is committed to using procurement strategically to drive key polices aimed at creating a pillar for sustainable economic growth and increased economies of scale.

He explained that the reform of legislation, policies and systems relating to the business operations of the public sector is intended to provide economic stimulus by enhancing the potential of local industries, in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that will be enabled to acquire a more meaningful share of the Government’s procurement contracts.

Dr. Clarke informed that the Public Procurement Act is supported by three pieces of Regulations, which are intended to enable its effective operations. These are the Public Procurement

Regulations 2018; the Public Procurement (Reconsideration and Review) Regulations, 2018; and the Public Procurement (Registration and Classification of Suppliers) Regulations, 2018.

“The Public Procurement Regulations 2018 contain provisions that will ensure the efficient and effective management of the procurement function in a manner grounded in obtaining best value for money. The importance of proper procurement planning, timely execution of procurement proceedings, effective management of contractor performance management are embedded in these regulations,” he noted.

“A public procurement system that engenders public trust and confidence must provide an avenue for redress and, as such, the Public Procurement (Reconsideration and Review) Regulations, 2018 are being promulgated. Under these regulations the Procurement Review Board has been empowered to take timely actions and decisions that arise from disputes,” the Finance Minister added.

He further noted that the Public Procurement (Registration and Classification of Suppliers) Regulations, 2018 have not yet been tabled, as these regulations require the operationalisation of the Public Procurement Commission under the Public Procurement Act.

“The Public Procurement (Registration and Classification of Suppliers) Regulations 2018 will address not only the registration and classification of suppliers, but strengthen and expand the functions of the Commission as an independent body, with its own staff and offices,” Dr. Clarke said.

He also informed that the Ministry is far advanced with the implementation of the electronic procurement platform. To date, 89 procuring entities have been trained in its functionality, of which 29 are already using the platform to execute procurement contracts.

In addition, approximately 1,000 suppliers are registered on the platform, of which 264 Jamaican suppliers have been trained by the Ministry.

The Minister said in light of the foregoing, the decision to amend the Public Procurement Act is consequential of challenges encountered while drafting the supporting legislation, the Public Procurement Manual and the Standard Bidding Documents.

“Whilst most of the amendments are to correct grammatical and reference errors, there were matters related to policy issues, and in particular provisions under special and differential treatment measures, which are geared towards the support of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises,” Dr. Clarke said.

To this end, Part One of the Act is being amended to add definitions of key terms, including that of supplier, special and differential treatment measures, offsets, domestic margin of preference and set-asides.

Part Two of the Act is being amended to clarify the role of the Office of the Public Procurement Policy as the administrative body with the vested authority to establish framework agreements.

In addition, Part Three of the Act is being amended to include additional public procurement methods that are intended to achieve greater efficiencies in the execution of the procurement function and meet the best value for money objective.

Part Four of the Act will be amended to make a clear distinction between ‘Eligibility’ – the bidder being required to demonstrate proof of tax compliance and appropriate registration with the Public Procurement Commission – and ‘Qualification’ – the bidder demonstrating ability and capacity to undertake or fulfil the requirements of the specific procurement opportunity.

 

Also, Part Five of the Act requires amendment of the standstill period, so that it is applicable to Tier-One contracts, which are the value range accessible to MSMEs, thereby ensuring this vulnerable class of suppliers’ ability to seek review and reconsideration.

The amendments also address the issues of special and differential treatment measures.

Debate on the Bill will continue at the next sitting of the House of Representatives.

JIS Social