The Ministry of Finance (MOF) published the draft Public Procurement Bill yesterday, beginning the process to close one of the largest loopholes for the issuance of questionable government contracts.
An MOF press statement explained that the new bill requires
the government to regularly “publish contracts awarded to vendors, including public disclosures of basic contract details, such as the winning bidder and the amount of the contract”.
The government has been working on the bill for some time as part of its bid to make government processes more transparent and fair.
“This means that citizens will know who the beneficiaries of all government contracts are in a timely and transparent manner,” the statement noted.
“Under the provisions of the new bill, unsuccessful bidders will now have a formal mechanism for complaints and appeals all the way up to a tribunal.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said in the statement that this bill will create a profound change in the way government conducts its business.
“Once again, this government is keeping its promise to ensure greater transparency and accountability in public affairs,” Turnquest said.
“This is a massive step forward for the country.
“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.”
Turquest said this process will make it easier for government vendors to track potential jobs.
The legislation calls for the creation of a public procurement board, “which will replace the existing government tenders board”, according to the statement, and the board’s chairman will be appointed by the prime minister. The board will be comprised of civil society representatives and public service officers, the statement revealed.
“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 statement added.