Guyana’s procurement laws consist of a number of loopholes which leave the door wide open for corruption. In fact, the Procurement Act 2003 is too old to effectively address the evolving state of procurement. With this in mind, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) hired a consultant to review the existing laws.
Confirming this with the Guyana Standard was NPTAB’s Chairman, Berkley Wickham. He noted that recommendations on amendments to the Act are being reviewed. Wickham said that this review process is crucial since the national procurement system demands that there be sustainability and cost-effectiveness for projects. He said that this will be needed more than ever when oil comes on stream.
While he declined to reveal what some of the recommendations are, Wickham highlighted that the current law is silent on E-procurement. This refers to the process of purchase and sale of goods or services through electronic methods, primarily the internet. It consists of e-Tendering, e-Auctioning, Vendor Management and Contract Management among other processes. It saves organizations from the hassle and irregularities involved in manual procurement.
In addition to this, the Financial Officer said that while there remains a number of issues to be addressed, NPTAB has made some improvements in other areas.
The NPTAB head said, “We have a lot of problems to fix but significant advances have been made to improve the entity. Some of these are; increases in the Threshold limits for Regional, Ministerial/Agency Tender Boards; work in progress in developing debarment procedures; the Bid Protest Committee has been established and is functional; the Public Procurement Commission has been established; and we have been an active participant in the Task Force for the development of the Caricom Public Procurement Regime”.
Wickham said that NPTAB has also been working with the Ministry of Business to facilitate the participation of small businesses and women-owned businesses in the Public Procurement process. Pursuant to Section 17 of the Procurement Act 2003, Wickham said that the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board has been organizing training in public procurement.