JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Significant savings are expected from the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, which was passed in Parliament in September.
  • Senior Director of the Procurement and Asset Policy Unit in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Cecile Maragh, says the Government hopes to reduce the amount spent on public procurement by at least 2 per cent.
  • Mrs. Maragh informed that moving from the manual system to the electronic Government procurement system is one way the Government will reduce money expended on procurement, and which can be spent in other areas for national development.

Significant savings are expected from the implementation of the Public Procurement Act, which was passed in Parliament in September.

Senior Director of the Procurement and Asset Policy Unit in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Cecile Maragh, says the Government hopes to reduce the amount spent on public procurement by at least 2 per cent.

“Last fiscal year, we spent approximately $60 billion on public procurement aggregated through consulting services, goods, general services, works and insurance,” she said, adding that 30 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from procurement.

Mrs. Maragh was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, on October 21.

“A lot of those costs account for the production of the bidding documents [which] are quite bulky. There is also the cost of printing and transporting the document to the procurement entity,” she added.

Mrs. Maragh informed that moving from the manual system to the electronic Government procurement system is one way the Government will reduce money expended on procurement, and which can be spent in other areas for national development.

“We are now in the phase of the roll-out of the pilot entities. This will see significant transformation in the landscape of our public procurement – how we advertise, how we receive bids, the time it takes to execute a procurement process and have contracts in place,” she said.

The pilot of the electronic Government procurement system was launched in July and is expected to be fully implemented next year.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Maragh said priority will be placed on the accountability of procuring entities under the new legislation.

“Public procurement is a key instrument of development for any nation and must be taken seriously. Each head of entity has a level of responsibility in ensuring that there is accountability and transparency in how public procurement is undertaken,” the Senior Director said.

“We have to ensure that we tighten [the] loopholes and put the systems in place to ensure that we have proper and prudent management of our funds,” she added.

Mrs. Maragh also informed that under the new legislation, there will be stricter penalties for breaches.

“[Along] with criminal sanctions, we now also have administrative sanctions. So, we will see a surcharge provision in the legislation for those entities that have circumvented the procurement rules and it applies to not only public officials but also any participant in the procurement proceedings, supplier or Government official, because corruption or fraud is not one sided,” she said.

The Public Procurement Act forms part of the Government’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP) and when implemented will replace existing outdated and fragmented legislative framework with an updated comprehensive law that reflects new policy thinking and international best practices.

The objectives of the Act are: to maximise economy and efficiency in public procurement, foster transparency, promote economic development and provide for the fair and equitable treatment of all persons participating in the public procurement process.