By John Primo
The IDB is Leading Procurement Initiatives to Increase Transparency.
Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, citizens nowadays are demanding greater transparency in government activities, improved public services, more effective national institutions, and an efficient use of state resources. Governments spend a significant portion of their resources on services or products obtained through the public procurement process, so it is essential to make sure that the process is well organized, adequately monitored, and completely transparent.
While Belize possesses a rich and diverse culture, it is still saddled with outdated laws governing the country’s public procurement system. Legislation on public procurement in Belize dates back to 1965, and although it was updated in 2000 and 2005, it needs to be improved to meet international standards.
In 2010, Belize’s procurement capabilities were assessed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Committee’s Methodology for Assessing Procurement Systems (MAPS). These assessments determined that the procurement framework needed to advance with regard to the administration of public procurement at the operational level.
In 2015, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) also conducted a study Building Effective Governments: Executive Summaries of the Caribbean Country Studies to assess countries’ institutional capacity to manage their public sectors efficiently. The results for Belize concluded that the country had made significant progress over the years 2007 – 2013 in indicators designed to measure its ability to achieve development results, showing improvement in five key pillars of the public policy management cycle: planning, budgeting, public financial management, program and project management, and monitoring and evaluation.
It is now evident that public procurement systems in Belize are undergoing a slow-but-sure transformation process, thanks to the efforts of the Government of Belize, various International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and the CARICOM Secretariat’s Single Market & Economy (CSME) Unit’s interventions to implement the infrastructure and instruments for an integrated CSME procurement market.
The IDB, the only IFI with an office on the ground in Belize, has taken the lead and is working along with its partners to provide much-needed assistance to improve the key areas of the existing public procurement infrastructure. To this end, the IDB intervened to develop a cadre of competent and qualified procurement officials to effectively service Government and IFI-funded operations by financing the complete training for Levels 2 and 3 of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) qualifications.
The IDB also collaborated with the World Bank and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and took the lead to host Belize’s first procurement fair in October. The fair proved to be extremely successful as more than 140 local, regional and international contractors, consultants and service providers attended. The participants received information on more than US$231 million in procurement opportunities that are available for development projects in Belize that are financed by the three institutions.
Terry Wright, Program Manager and Tamra Cano, Procurement Specialist of the Ministry of Tourism presenting the Sustainable Tourism Program II.
One fair attendee, Nick Denman mentioned “thank you to you and your team for putting on a fantastic Procurement Fair on the 6th October 2016, it was very informative and very well attended and we look forward to attending other Procurement Fairs, not only in Belize but other regions.”
IDB Country Representative Cassandra Rogers also noted that “our project executing agencies have at times reported low levels of responses to specific procurement notices which were advertised in the local and international media. It is our hope that this type of information exchange and outreach will increase both the level of interest and response to advertised business opportunities.”
The Belizean Government is also working with CARICOM’s CSME Unit for the establishment of a Community Public Procurement Notice Board, which will facilitate the publication of procurement opportunities in all CARICOM member states and medium this should provide a wider coverage to advertised opportunities.
It is hoped that these efforts will further increase transparency and accountability in Belize’s public procurement processes and attract a greater participation of companies from across the region: the greater the participation, the better value for taxpayers’ dollars.