By Leonard Gildarie
As impatience continues to wear thin on the implementation of State contracts, Government has announced
ambitious plans to ensure its ministries and agencies perform on the job.
During his presentation of the 2016 National Budget in the National Assembly, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, disclosed a number of measures are in stream to reverse the problems in past which saw billions of dollars wasted because of poor planning and implementation.
Several multi-billion-dollar projects, including the East Bank and East Coast Demerara road projects are behind schedule.
Last December, he said, President David Granger ordered that each Ministry table annual performance report to Cabinet.
“All ministries were required to report on their key performance indicators against their set targets for the year 2015. This is now a mandatory feature that will occur annually and is part of the fresh approach.”
As part of the new measures to ensure performance, budget agencies and regions must develop and implement strategic plans that are monitored through performance indicators. They must also adopt systems to measure performance.
“For too long, plans have been developed without adequate baseline data. Mr. Speaker, under this administration, such practices must end. Our government is seeking to re-establish a capacity for national planning, and has sought the assistance of the CDB (Caribbean Development Bank) to facilitate this process.”
Real growth, Jordan insisted, cannot be accomplished if the poor performance of implementing projects, funded within the public sector investment programme (PSIP), is not addressed with alacrity.
“Significant contributors to delayed project execution include national procurement policies and the operations of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). It is, therefore, time that we rethink the structure and mechanism employed in implementing development projects.”
As a result, plans are underway for the enhancement of procurement processes and procedures.
Recently, the Finance Minister disclosed, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed to increases in the ministerial and regional tender board limits, so as to empower Ministries and regions to undertake more in-house evaluations.
Government is also planning to reduce the volume of paperwork received by the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). To facilitate this, a section of the regulations pertaining to the Procurement Act will be amended to require that all contracts exceeding $1.5 million in value to be posted on NPTAB’s website.
But there will also be other tough measures to reduce corruption and improve contracts are completed on time and within budget.
Measures have also been announced to ensure contractors vying for State contracts are toeing the line.
According to Jordan, attention will be focused on ensuring contractors’ compliance to tender/bid requirements; strengthening contractor capacity and capabilities through training and capacity building initiatives and ensuring that contracts are awarded within contractors’ technical, financial, equipment and managerial capabilities.
The last would be critical as it was the accusation in the past that contracts were awarded to companies that do not necessarily possess the expertise.
There will also be training and widening the pool of evaluators to speed up contract awards and implementing rigorously “liquidated damages against defaulting contractors; strengthening project supervision; installing a permanent bid protest committee; and training and certifying national procurement officers across the central government,” Minister Jordan warned.
The Government, he says, is also anxiously awaiting the start-up of the much delayed Public Procurement Commission.
The commission, which will regulate the awarding of State contracts, has been delayed for over a decade now because of difference between previous Governments and Opposition- there must be agreement on the members.
Government is planning to strengthen its internal audit capacity and mechanisms to ensure that the delivery of public goods and services occurs in a transparent manner.
“Together these initiatives will build the absorptive capacity of our public and private sectors to respond promptly and effectively to the development challenges before us.”
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