Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick??

Government is moving swiftly to overhaul its procurement process – a move that will eliminate over pricing of bids, lengthy delays in project execution and reduced productivity.

Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, announced plans to speed-up this process under the Procurement Modernisation Project, during the Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) seminar entitled: Detecting, Mitigating and Fighting Bid-Rigging in Public Procurement.?? It was held today at the Savannah Hotel.

Noting that public procurement accounted for 4.1 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Economic Affairs Minister said this represented a significant proportion of government’s annual expenditure.

Dr. Estwick added that anti-competitive practices such as price fixing, market division, bid rotation and other forms of collusion, were not only counter-productive to government’s expenditure objectives, they also led to over-spending, the delivery of poor goods and services to the public and other procurement inefficiencies.??

Citing excerpts from the project document, the Minister explained that the project sought "to improve the effectiveness of public procurement, saving time and money through competitive prices and reduced process time, while ensuring the transparency and integrity of the system".

Given this expectation, Dr. Estwick disclosed that Government’s efforts to reform public procurement would include: "rationalising procurement activities across departments; providing greater clarity and transparency in procedures; ensuring greater uniformity through the use of standard bidding documents and contracts and incorporating more strategic checks and balances that eliminate malfeasance."

With the implementation of these measures, the Minister of Economic Affairs said the process will become more transparent and accountable, where market players will be more confident and willing to participate.??

The overhaul Dr. Estwick added will also lead to the removal of inefficient and time-consuming activities; the promotion of greater competition among bidding companies; greater compliance with the expectations of donors and the promotion of international best practices in procurement activities, while taking into account developments under the Caricom Single Market and Economy.

He acknowledged that the restrictions to anti-competitive practices would lead to "more competitive pricing and better quality products, as companies strive to outbid their rivals in offering the best quality goods and services to government."

The Minister urged public service departments and their heads to be vigilant by discouraging any activity that hindered fair competition and to report such occurrences to the FTC.

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