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Senate passes amendments to Public Procurement Act

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Senate, on Friday, passed the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act 2018, which seeks to regulate the procurement of goods, works and services by entities of Government.

The legislation, which was piloted by Leader of Government Business and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith was passed with three changes.
Opening the debate, Johnson Smith said that public procurement can no longer be treated as a routine clerical function within a ministry or department, noting that today's procurement environment is anything but routine.

“It requires an understanding of dynamic markets, ever-changing technologies and modern purchasing methods. Furthermore, in addition to national regulatory requirements, we have to ensure compliance with international obligations in trade, labour, the environment and in the mitigation of corruption,” she pointed out.

She noted that Government procurement accounts for a substantial part of the economy, at about 30 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and therefore a modern regime is needed that ensures value for money.

“We must ensure that the processes are fair and transparent in the use of tax payers money,” she stressed.

The amendments will better enable Jamaica to meet the objectives of the principal law, aimed at introducing a modern procurement system with clear rules, and the necessary institutional base to ensure equity, fairness, transparency and efficiency.

The Act, passed in 2015, seeks to, among other things, enhance the potential for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to compete for Government contracts; increase the efficiency of public entities in delivering timely services, thereby increasing public confidence in Government; harmonise documentation; and allow for electronic submission of bids.

“There have been challenges in attaining all of these objectives and the amendments, in addition to the Regulations, will get us closer to effective implementation of a new procurement regime,” Johnson Smith noted.

Meanwhile, Johnson Smith said the Government is partnering with the Management Institute for the National Development (MIND) for the training of procurement officers.

Twenty public officials are being instructed as trainers for the rollout of the public procurement training programme across the public sector.

Johnson Smith informed that the Ministry of Finance and Public Service is advanced in 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.

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