I note recently in one of the local newspapers the issue of public procurement was reignited when the minister of economic affairs was asked why the provisions in the Public Procurement Bill, relative to the requirement that approved contracts and procurement activities are to be published within 60 days of being awarded, was not being followed.
The minister’s explanation was that the new administration found no manuals or regulations in place relating to the Public Procurement Act suggesting this has affected the government’s ability to comply with the key legislation.
Not surprisingly, the minister also revealed that the procurement legislation is likely to be amended.
When this bill was initially introduced, I publicly expressed the view then that any law that seeks to remove from the politician the power to award contracts or diminish his or her role in the public procurement process or seek to make a politician accountable or transparent is unlikely to be embraced or implemented by any government.
In The Bahamas, a politician is of little relevance or use if he or she loses the power or ability to grant contracts, hire, grant consultancy or appointments within the public service or within government corporations and agencies.
The politicians learn this very quickly and have used the power of procurement and hiring as a sword and a shield to reward some and punish others when necessary.
Without it, he or she is obsolete and in the opinion of many an obstacle to the effective functioning of the state.
The making of laws and national policy, which is the politician’s primary function, is of little significance to the average politician and was not the motivating factor for why most of them sought office as an elected representative.
To add insult to this injury, it is the view of many of our most aspiring and enterprising individuals, that the Bahamian politician is the biggest hindrance to the accomplishment of their dreams and aspirations. They will tell you that the country could very well function superbly without them.
The last thing any administration wants when it comes to public procurement is a bright light beaming in its direction or the ability of legislation to predetermine how the procurement process is to be conducted.
It remains to be seen how this administration will conduct itself.
— Claude B. Hanna