Draft legislation released for consultation
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Minnis administration yesterday touted its public procurement reforms as a ‘massive step forward’ for The Bahamas towards ensuring greater transparency and accountability.
More than 1,500 vendors have registered on its e-tender platform, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance.
The draft Public Procurement Bill was released for public consultation yesterday, and that consultative period is open for 30 days.
The legislation paves the way for the full modernization of government protocols for contracts for goods and services.
The new draft bill calls for the regular publication of contracts awarded to vendors, including public disclosures of basic contract details, such as the winning bidder and the amount of the contract, bidding processes and addresses conflicts of interest.
Citizens will be able to know who the beneficiaries of all government contracts are in a timely and transparent manner. Under the provision of the new bill, unsuccessful bidders will now have a formal mechanism for complaints and appeals all the way up to a tribunal.
“The reform of public procurement represent a sea-change in how government conducts business and the country will benefit as a result,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.
“Once again, this government is keeping its promise to ensure greater transparency and accountability in public affairs. Unlike others who only promised procurement reform in the past, the Minnis-led government is actually delivering,” he said.
The legislation also calls for the creation of a Public Procurement Board, which will replace the existing Government Tender’s Board. The new board will be chaired by a private sector individual, who is appointed by the Prime Minister, and comprise civil society representatives and public service officers.
It mandates that all material tender offerings for goods and services be made public through an electronic platform designed for that purpose. It allows the government to set aside a certain percentage of bid offerings exclusively for Bahamian small businesses – advancing the Government’s inclusive growth objectives and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and emerging companies.
The legislation also calls for the establishment of a public procurement department to be headed by chief procurement officer, procurement units as well as an independent Procurement Review Tribunal.
Turnquest said: “This is a massive step forward for the country. Once again, this government is keeping its promise to ensure greater transparency and accountability in public affairs. Unlike others who only promised procurement reform in the past, the Minnis-led government is actually delivering.”
“We already have over 1,500 vendors registered on the e-tender platform. Registration is open and free for all interested vendors. On this platform, all vendors are alerted automatically when there are new opportunities to bid on projects.
This has already brought an unprecedented level of transparency, for in the past it could be difficult for potential bidders to access information about opportunities. The process will be further strengthened once the final bill is enacted.”
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has previously stated that the Government will save more than $13 million annually from a centralised, modern public procurement system.