By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis led debate on the Public Procurement Bill and Public Finance Management Bill in the House of Assembly yesterday, telling parliamentarians that the legislation, once enacted, will allow for improved government financial management and greater transparency.
The bills will also repeal and replace the Public Finance Management Act 2021, the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2018 and sections of the Financial Administration and Audit Act and The Public Procurement Act 2021.
Speaking on the Public Finance Management Act and Public Procurement Act that were passed under the former administration, Mr Davis described the laws as being unworkable from the start and said it was his administration’s job to correct the flaws.
“As the side opposite claims that the unworkable legislation they left on the books was ‘effective,’ the real question is: how would they even know? They didn’t actually implement the laws they passed in a real way,” the prime minister claimed.
“Fortunately, Madam Speaker, a new administration is in place that takes its commitment to transparency and sound financial management seriously. We will not wait until year five to rush through amendments as an afterthought. Good governance isn’t about checking boxes just to say you did something on paper. It is about the real results you get for people every day.”
Mr Davis noted that these replacement laws were necessary for effective public financial management and efficient public procurement processes.
Under the new Public Procurement Bill, he said there will be preferential treatment for certain groups and also more widespread opportunities for businesses.
“Under the current Act, the most well-established, well resourced businesses were able to dominate government contracts under the guise of them being the best fit for the job. This sounds good on paper but ignores the reality on the ground,” he added.
“We will introduce preferences for micro, small and medium sized enterprises, women owned businesses, Family Island businesses and youth owned businesses. These are high priority areas we are targeting as a government to diversify opportunities in The Bahamas.
“Our procurement laws must reflect this priority.”
Mr Davis told parliamentarians the legislation, among other things, will lower the threshold for establishment of a tender committee to review bids and award contracts from $50,000 to $25,000 which he said will allow for greater transparency.
With respect to the Public Finance Management Bill, Mr Davis said it allows the strengthening of the Fiscal Responsibility Council, greater flexibility for budgetary reallocations, and the establishment of a Public Sector Audit Committee.
He said: “Madam Speaker, the Bills before us are the product of deep consultation with public sector financial management and procurement experts who have communicated great concern about the lack of practicality in the existing legislation. We must let common sense reign as far as effective policy making and legislating is concerned.”
East Grand Bahama MP and Shadow Minister of Finance Kwasi Thompson said the opposition did not support the proposed legislative changes, telling parliamentarians that many of the changes are “aggressive” and do not move the country forward.
“In fact, with respect to the amendments to the public financial management act, it completely decimates the previous standards that the Acts provide for,” the FNM MP said.
He said the bills passed by the Minnis administration had wide consultation and told MPs that he was disappointed that the government sought to make changes particular to the public financial management without getting the input of several industry stakeholders.
“Madam Speaker, I must submit also that we must continue to raise this standard of care when it comes to management and transparency of managing the people’s money. If there is a standard that the bill or the act provides, we must adjust ourselves to meet that standard and not bring that standard down to meet us,” he also said.
Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.
Commenting has been disabled for this item.