The amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property (Amendment) Act will not “water down” the process or bring calamity in any way.
So said the Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, who made the statement during an extraordinary sitting of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.
Instead of causing problems, Imbert assured that the amendments will remedy defects, and bring certainty to small enterprises among other things.
Hebsaid he would focus on fixing a “drafting error” within the bill, as well as the modification of the method by which orders and regulations are made. He planned to make it so that goods and services costing less than $1 million would be exempted from the procurement requirement under the act but still subject to regulation.
He said the amendments would neither “water down” nor “erode” the objective of the act.
“If one looks all over the world, one will discover that exemptions are part and parcel of all modern procurement laws all over the world.”
On the introduction of a threshold, he said, “It will bring certainty to the vast amount (sic) of small and micro enterprises in this country that have been left out of the procurement (process) for one reason for the other.”
He also said, under the current regulations, if government wished to procure something needed for routine operations such as a photocopying machine at an office, it would take up to three and a half months.
The amendments will shorten the wait time for some. But he insisted the changes would not create a “carte blanche, free for all” approach and reiterated that there would still be rules and regulations.
On the change to negative resolution, as opposed to affirmative, for exemption orders, Imbert said without this, the country’s development would be rendered moot.
“If we as a government do not faithfully adhere to the requirement that we ensure that things work in this country as best as they can, then we don’t deserve to be in government.”
On the topic of the Caricom summit, he said anyone who has had to organise an international event understood that things could change quickly and sometimes, at the last minute.
He said, several international leaders only confirmed their attendance days before the event as they had “very busy schedules.”
He referred to Caricom’s current discussions on the procurement process for the region which “many countries” have already shown support for.