By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Ministry of Finance’s central tender’s board can now grant contracts worth between $250,000 and $1.2m without requiring Cabinet approval, a retired Supreme Court justice has confirmed.
Justice Rhonda Bain (retired), chair of The Bahamas Bar Association’s ethics committee, said the recently-implemented Public Procurement Act (PPA) both decentralises the bid analysis and awarding of government contracts while also ensuring that only the largest such deals need go before Cabinet for approval.
Speaking at a webinar held by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Bahamas chapter and Citadel Consultants, Justice Bain said each “procuring entity” - which means any government agency or department - will now have their own tenders committee. This moves away from the previously centralised model where the Tender’s Board was housed at the Ministry of Finance.
Justice Bain said: “Prior to the PPA, there was no legislation in The Bahamas that dealt with the procurement of goods, works or services for public entities. An amendment was made in 2013 but that amendment was never brought into effect.”
She added that prior to the Act’s passage there was a solitary tender’s board that comprised the Ministry of Finance’s financial secretary, the Ministry of Health’s permanent secretary and the Ministry of Works’ permanent secretary, who all opened bids together and were able to award contracts valued up to $50,000. This has now changed.
Justice Bain explained: “The Act has thresholds. The procurement unit may award contracts to anything up to $50,000. Any contract over $50,000, and not exceeding $250,000, will be awarded by the tender’s committee with approval by the minister responsible for the procuring entity.”
Any contract in excess of $250,000 and not exceeding $1.2m will go to the central tender’s board for approval, and anything in excess of $1.2m will be forwarded to the Cabinet.
Justice Bain said: “One of the safeguards in the Act is where a procurement contract is awarded to a person or entity pursuant to any international treaty or agreement, or any agreement with a funding agency.
“So if a contract is awarded pursuant to a loan from the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), the minister responsible for finance shall publish on his website, within 60 days, the notice of the award of the procurement contract and, most importantly, the name and address of each beneficial owner of the company.”