Concerns with Procurement Platform


The Public Procurement and Disposal of Property Act has been in the news a lot recently, with many companies voicing their concerns and issues with the new requirements and the procurement platform. AMCHAM T&T has been working both with the Office of Procurement Regulation and the Ministry of Finance to address these challenges. 

In August, AMCHAM T&T hosted a Virtual Information Session with its members. Beverly Khan and her team at the OPR to address the following issues outlined by companies:
1. Key topics related to the Procurement Depository and the registration/pre-qualification of International Suppliers.
2. The procurement processes, compliance requirements and evaluation criteria.
3. The recent amendments to the legislation, timeline(s), and processes for complaints  and to challenge proceedings.

In her opening remarks, Khan said the OPR has been working with the Ministry of Finance to make the system more efficient through the following proposed changes: 
1) staying at Level 2 on the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPC) system; 
2) introducing new codes to customise the lines of business; and 
3) removing the need for pre-qualification on the depository so that it becomes a registry of suppliers and contractors with particular lines of business. However, pre-qualification would still be a requirement at the level of the procuring entity.

This process will relieve the requirements of contractors and suppliers from producing on an ongoing basis, even outside of tender periods, a host of documents, thereby allowing them to register the name of their company, company address, articles of incorporation, additional company information, and the lines of business more easily. Only at the time of the evaluation and the pre-qualification process will companies be required to meet the statutory requirements concerning NIB, BIR and VAT documents.

“We want to keep it simple,” Khan said. “We want a registration process. It will be a marketplace for suppliers and contractors, and for public bodies to see what are their offerings.”

She also said a recommendation has been made to have international suppliers and contractors register on the depository only when they have a notice of award from a public body. “We have taken that pressure off our international suppliers and contractors. A lot of our public bodies have been encountering the challenge,” Khan said. “We have suppliers and contractors who do not want to put in their financial information. Putting those things on the depository is working more against than for us, it adds no value at this stage of the process.”

AMCHAM T&T understands the challenges members have reported but remains optimistic about finding the right mechanism to address these concerns while simultaneously ensuring that The Public Procurement and Disposal of Property Act allows for increased transparency in the spending of public money and reduces corruption which will have a tremendous and positive impact on our entire society.

“We welcome the proposed changes outlined by the Procurement Regulator to make this process more efficient,” said Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T. “We appreciate the engagement of the OPR on this issue and we look forward to building on the collaboration to create mutual trust and ensure that the procurement process becomes easier and more transparent at the same time.”

“AMCHAM T&T believes it would be in everyone’s best interest that we continue working together to ensure the Act is operationalised in keeping with the principles of good governance, efficiency, accountability, transparency, integrity, and value for money,” Tewarie said.