By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Prime Minister has said his administration is hoping to table amendments to the Public Procurement Act in Parliament “very early” after it convenes following the summer recess.
Philip “Brave” Davis, however, said before the legislation is brought to Parliament, officials want to publish the proposed changes and seek public feedback.
The law, which was passed under the Minnis administration last year, requires the government to publish details of approved contracts and procurement activities within 60 days of the award of the contract.
However, since assuming office, the Davis administration has yet to comply with the reporting requirements of the law, often facing criticism from the opposition over the issue.
Yesterday, Mr Davis was asked to respond to criticisms over his administration’s lack of compliance with the law.
“Well, first of all, it’s not workable,” he said.
“It’s clearly not workable and it’s causing challenges. If you were to follow the law as it is, we will never be able to bring relief to people. Particularly you would’ve seen the challenges that we had at the hospital.
“If you were to follow that, we probably will still be in the potholes trying to address the issues so they’re not workable. There are suggestions how we amend those laws and they are under consideration because we want to come up with a workable solution to the challenges we have.
“We are an archipelago and so whatever construct we have has to take into account our peculiar and particular circumstances. We have to be able to respond to the needs of our people almost immediately in some instances,” Mr Davis added.
“You see one of the questions y’all should be asking and y’all should be asking that of the other side is why would you have passed the bill early in the year and not have it in effect until September because they understand what they were doing was not workable,” the prime minister said.
In May, Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis told reporters the government was hoping to amend the Public Procurement Act in the 2022/23 budget period with a view of making it “user friendly” to ensure better compliance and greater transparency.
However, he did not give a specific timeline on when they intended to bring the proposed legislation to Parliament.
When pressed on the issue yesterday, Prime Minister Davis said: “Very early, very early – when we get back off of vacation.
“In fact, it is anticipated that it will be published before we go back and before it’s laid and any input that the general public will want with it will be had.”
The passage of the Public Procurement Act was partly a response to long-term criticisms of the country’s procurement processes.
In its 2020 investment climate statement on The Bahamas, the US State Department said this country lacks modern procurement legislation and that companies have complained the tender process for public contracts is inconsistent.
“US firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI (foreign direct investment) and have reported perceived corruption in government procurement and in the FDI approvals process,” the report said in part.