05 July 2007 | Paul Snell
Too many public sector organisations in Jamaica ignored government procurement rules last year, according to the country's contractor-general.
Greg Christie, the head of the Office of the Contractor-General (OCG), said in his annual report to parliament that public bodies and officials "continued to flout the government's procurement procedures with impunity, while scores have flagrantly persisted in their refusal to comply with the lawful requisitions of the OCG." If the situation continues, he added, the whole purpose of the OCG will be defeated.
The report revealed more than half of the 6,000 contracts the OCG examined last year, accounting for over J$2.7 billion (£19.8 million), went to suppliers not authorised by the government. It also found 23 per cent of all the contracts were not evaluated or approved by the public sector's procurement teams.
Christie expressed his frustration that, despite informing parliament and the government of the problems three times during 2006, they had not taken any action to improve the situation. He added it was clear "effective and urgent remedial action" was needed, and urged the government to introduce laws with punitive sanctions, including criminal penalties, for those who flout regulations.
He emphasised his support for the development of an electronic portal, where public tenders could be advertised. He said the current cost of advertising tenders in national newspapers was around $80 million (£565,000), and was a significant cost to the government and taxpayers.