By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE country’s public procurement system, long a target of frustration and even international criticism, will be transformed next year to boost transparency and save the country a substantial amount of money, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest said yesterday.
During a press conference, Mr Turnquest announced the government’s E-Tendering and Supplier Registry System will be launched on February 5 next year where it will serve as a one-stop shop of sorts for tendering and procurement matters.
The government will soon table a Public Procurement Bill to “strengthen the regularity framework around government’s procurement.”
Through the bill, a Public Procurement Department and a Public Procurement Board will be established.
A Public Review Tribunal will also be established “to give recourse to persons who believe there have been an injustice rendered to them during the tendering process.”
During the first phase of the project, potential suppliers will be able to register on the online portal; registered vendors will receive notifications when request for tenders are uploaded to the system; and interested bidders will be able to prepare and submit bidding documents through the online portal “at their convenience prior to bidding deadlines,” Mr Turnquest said.
He added the system will “increase ease of doing business and make procurement processes more competitive.”
“There will be complete visibility,” he said. “All qualifying Bahamian businesses will be able to register to do businesses consistent with their qualifications. Moreover, all persons by visiting the portal will be able to view business opportunities, know all the offers available, monitor the progress and see who is awarded the contracts and at what prices and the justification behind those awards. There is tracking of every decision throughout the procurement chain. All bid forms are time stamped which prevents interference form those who might be inclined to act outside their scope and after the close of a bid. Every action taken by government personnel within the system is tracked.”
The first phase of the project will cost $331,396, but officials could not say how much the project will cost overall. The second phase will feature the Public Procurement Act and its attendant regulations and establishment of departments.