ON THE LEFT: Not just about buying and selling
GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT has a direct effect on public spending which in turn promotes demand, impacts employment and consequently influences the economic status of a country.
On average, it is representative of approximately ten to 15 per cent of the GDP of an economy and constitutes an essential local market as well as a significant portion of our international trade. This figure is significant enough for our Government to focus considerable attention on its procurement. Regional and global trends and challenges dictate the advancement or impediment of procurement processes; hence the need for common and liberalising procurement trade agreements among countries of different means in the world marketplace.
Government has aspired to and in recent times been progressing toward worldwide standards in varying ways. These improved approaches are expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our public procurement system and result in saving time and money through competitive prices, as well as ensuring the transparency and integrity of the system as a whole. This attainment is also in keeping with the World Trade Organisation’s endeavours to promote transparency, integrity and competition.
Barbados has taken steps to reform its national procurement system having recognised that sound public procurement policies and practices are a vital ingredient to sustained growth and development of the country.
A public procurement system that is transparent, effective, and efficient and delivers value-for-money in public expenditure is mandatory for good governance. Its practice must also speak to the concepts of equality of treatment, fairness, consistency and predictability while encouraging wide and unfettered participation by those who seek to access its offerings. An inefficient, problematic and abused procurement system can be a major hindrance to economic progress. Barbados’ efforts were realised in a loan agreement between Government and the Inter-American Development Bank for the modernisation of Barbados national procurement system. This programme includes varying components and is being undertaken in ministries and departments across the public sector.
The strategic areas of the programme are disseminated in four components. Firstly, public procurement legal framework strengthening which would support the adoption of a public procurement policy. The policy will give clear guidelines to all procuring entities in Barbados, capturing both conventional and innovative types of procurement. Of course the policy will be supported by relevant legislation.
Procurement institutional capacity strengthening is the third section where assistance was offered to the Government to initiate and implement a career stream in public procurement within the civil service. This is paramount as there previously was no avenue in the Barbados for certification in procurement. Any training being offered was under the old model of supply chain management. Furthermore, plans are also being made for the establishment of a sustainable, ongoing training programme in procurement for public officers at the Training Administration Division.
Last but not the least is the module technological infrastructure modernisation and updating. This component caters to the establishment of an e-procurement system inclusive of an e-tendering system and includes the development and implementation of a technological infrastructure plan, development and implementation of the e-procurement system and automation of the procurement tendering process. The system has already been developed and training of users has begun.