The Full Story
The Government intends to amend the Procurement Act to increase the effectiveness of the country’s existing procurement system.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, gave details while responding to concerns from Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Planning and the Public Service, Julian Robinson, during the tabling of the Third Supplementary Estimates for the 2023/24 financial year in the House of Representatives, on September 26.
The concerns surround the capital expenditure of $66.6 billion, which represents a reduction of $8.7 billion on the prior allocation for capital programmes, and the current procurement system.
“We continue to review the Procurement Act and at some point, not too far in the future, we plan to introduce a few amendments here that can help to make that system more efficient,” Dr. Clarke said.
He emphasised, however, that persons who are responsible for using the Act must familiarise themselves with it.
“No matter what changes we make, we have to ensure that persons who are responsible for using the Act are familiar with it. A big part of the problem sometimes is that people go all the way down the wicket and then realise that they didn’t do it in the way they ought to, and so it has to be done again and that’s where, frustrating as it is, delays can come from, so I absolutely share your concern,” Dr. Clarke said.
The Minister argued that the need for greater levels of training is critical in the use of the Act.
“We have to redouble our efforts in training Procurement Officers in the use of the Procurement Act. There is a lot in there that can allow for accelerated performance of capital projects,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that the reduction in the Capital Expenditure “does not represent any project that is being canned; the reduction comes from the contingency provision in the capital expenditure envelope”.
Meanwhile, he said new instructions have been given for projects that would fit the description of “emergency” under the Public Investment Management System (PIMS).
“Projects that would fit the description of an emergency, whether from natural disaster or from a project that if not done could mean immediate liability for the Government… the procedures that are required for the public investment process will be significantly scaled down, such that the time involved would be significantly reduced,” the Minister explained.
“I promised it and we have delivered it. Madam Speaker, in August this year, the instructions went out to all ministries, departments and agencies for new projects, so it’s a new arrangement for emergency projects,” he added.
PIMS aims to streamline the preparation, appraisal, approval and management of all government projects.
The Third Supplementary Estimates provide for total expenditure of $1.094 trillion, which is an increase of $58.2 billion over the Second Supplementary Estimates.
The Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House will consider and report on the Estimates on October 4, 2023.