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Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, informed the House of Representatives yesterday (Oct. 7) that certain public sector entities are only being exempted from normal procurement procedures in respect of specific, clearly defined transactions.
He explained that the exemptions relate to five Government entities which, because of the nature of some transactions in which they engage from time to time, are required to act expeditiously or in circumstances that cannot be efficiently carried out within the Government’s procurement procedures.
“Further procurement activities that are to be exempted will be subjected to monitoring and investigation by the Contractor General and in that regard, the intensified surveillance which the Contractor General states he intends to apply is most welcome and the Government will take strong disciplinary action in any case of abuse identified by the Contractor General or by other means,” Mr. Golding said.
He added that for other procurement activities the five public sector entities will be required to comply with the established procedures. The entities are, Air Jamaica, Petrojam, the Port Authority of Jamaica, the Jamaica Tourist Board and Jamaica Vacations Limited.
Citing examples, Mr. Golding explained that certain parts, equipment and repair and maintenance services required by the Port Authority, are specific to the particular type of equipment and are not appropriate for open or limited tender and do not lend themselves to sole sourcing, since the suppliers may not be registered with the National Contracts Commission (NCC).
“Entities like Air Jamaica and the Jamaica Tourist Boardm, operate from various locations overseas and have to procure goods and services from suppliers in the particular areas. These suppliers are unlikely to be registered with the NCC and may have no interest in being so registered. The Government procurement procedures preclude the award of any contract to a supplier who is not registered with the NCC,” Mr. Golding explained.
The Prime Minister was responding to comments made by the Contractor General, Greg Christie, who has taken issue publicly with a decision by Cabinet, to exempt certain public sector entities from Government procurement procedures in limited specified transactions, and subject to particular conditions.
Meanwhile, Mr. Golding said the Government is committed to strengthening the role of the Contractor General and the oversight of Government procurement activities.
To that end, the Government is proposing to amend the Contractor General Act to: give legal force to the procedures for the award of Government contracts; criminalise certain breaches of these procedures; and render null and void contracts that have been awarded contrary to these procedures.
“In order to facilitate this, the Draft Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2008 was completed in August and has been referred to the Contractor General for his examination and comments,” Mr. Golding informed.
He added that work is proceeding on the amendments and that it is hoped to have the amending Bill and the Regulations tabled in Parliament during the current legislative session.
The function of the Contractor General, as set out in Section Four of the Act is to monitor the award and implementation of government contracts to ensure that: they are awarded impartially and on merit; the circumstances in which they are awarded or terminated do not involve impropriety or irregularity; and their implementation conforms to the terms thereof.