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KINGSTON — President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Procurement Institute (INPRI), Jorge Claro, has commended the Jamaican Government for developing a sound procurement policy, as well as a cadre of trained professionals to deal with it.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a workshop on public procurement at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) in Kingston, on Monday June 27, Mr. Claro said the Government’s decision to focus on procurement issues was an important point of development for Jamaica.

About 45 individuals from the public and private sectors will participate in the three-day workshop, June 27 to 29. It is being organised by MIND, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Public Service and INPRI.

Mr. Claro, who worked for eight years as Chief of Procurement at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said that until recently many countries in the Caribbean, Latin and Central America and as far as Africa and Asia, had no official procurement policy. He noted that over the last ten years, the world of procurement has changed dramatically, with significantly more countries, especially those within the region, seeking to develop new frameworks and policies to guide their operations.

He said that the relevance and importance of procurement have really come to the forefront in the last ten years.

“When I was working as Chief of Procurement for the IDB, in many countries, there was no office of procurement. There was no policy procurement entity as such, in general, in just about anywhere. The subject of procurement, as such, was just a neglected issue as a policy issue,” he stated.

“Procurement has been happening, obviously, forever in every country, but the importance of procurement, the relevance, the policy side of it, the political side of it, really only has come to the forefront for discussion over the last ten years,” he added.

He said, however, that some countries continue to be more advanced than others in terms of their procurement legislations and framework, as well as the provision of adequate training for staff.

“Most countries do not have a professional cadre of procurement officers dealing with procurement issues. So, in that sense, I think you are very lucky to have a Government that is dedicated to this, that has put procurement in the forefront for discussion and you are having all of these training programmes,” he said.

Mr. Claro said it was also important to have the private and public sector, as well as civil society involved in the procurement policy, noting that in most places was top down.

“When you have a procurement policy that also has the participation of civil society, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and you have an active civil society monitoring, overseeing the procurement process, you have less corruption, better service, and more efficiency,” he said.

Director, Procurement and Asset Policy, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Shirley Gayle-Sinclair, said procurement was a matter of much significance and therefore must be managed by persons who are well trained and equipped.

“At the Ministry we are cognisant of this and this is why, over the past two years, we have sought to enhance the technical knowledge of our technical personnel,” she stated.

She said since November 2009, with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government has deliver a number of training courses to develop a well trained and qualified staff to deal with the matter.

“We recognise that this is not just an important area to various sectors of society, it is also an area of high expenditure. Procurement in general represents 15 to 20 per cent of GDP,” she informed.

The Introduction to International Best Practices in Public Procurement workshop will provide participants with a thorough understanding of public procurement issues and practices. Key issues include complexities affecting public procurement, application of good procurement policies, tools and techniques to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of procurement, influence of the policies and procedures of financial institutions and their role in shaping public sector procurement.

 

By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter