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Minnis: Advancing Public Procurement Act was the right thing to do

The advancement of the Public Procurement Act was the right and proper thing to do to advance the country, former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday, noting that while in opposition the Progressive Liberal Party did not oppose the law.

“They voted for it,” he said when asked about the attorney general’s recent statement that the act will be fully rewritten.

“They did not oppose it. They voted for it.

“The thing about public procurement, when we discussed it we had challenges also. We had concerns.

“One of the great concerns was that you were going to remove certain power away from politicians and it was going to be more transparent.

“That was a great debate among us in terms of Cabinet.

“We decided that the country had to be first. We had to move and advance the country forward in terms of transparency, equality, and fairness to all. So we made the decision that that was the proper thing to do. We knew that we would have challenges but we also knew that there were ways that we could do certain things that we would have ran into in terms of obstacles.

“They voted for it. It is the proper thing to do to advance the country forward, so that all contracts are transparent. Many people feel that contracts are issued and they were not given a fair chance. I think it was the proper thing to do.”

Last week, Attorney General Ryan Pinder said the act will be rewritten because of some troublesome aspects of the current law.

He said there are mechanisms that restrict the government reacting immediately in times of emergency.

“The requirement to go to procurement, especially instances of exigency when the government has to react in real time to situations, really hurts the ability of a government to do that to react to concerns of its citizens,” Pinder said.

However, the opposition has pointed to section 34 of the Act which allows for flexibility in the award of contracts during times of emergency.

The section states that a procuring entity may award a procurement contract via limited bidding in the event of an emergency or extreme urgency including times of natural disaster or war, among other reasons.

That act came into force on September 1, 2021 after the Minnis administration faced strong criticisms from the then-opposition and others over perceived foot dragging in implementing the new law.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018.

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