'Cut the red tape' - Government aims to reduce the approval time of proposals for projects
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
TRANSPORT, WORKS and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies on Tuesday said the Government has engaged the Office of the Contractor General with a view to reducing the time from which a request for proposal (RFP) is issued and the granting of approval by Cabinet.
Davies said the aim is to reduce the time the project lingers before being approved by Cabinet to three months, down from the current norm of 18 months to two years.
He said, however, that bureaucracy is stifling both the public and private sectors and reiterated the stance of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that the time has come to cut red tape.
"We have been so concerned about the unscrupulous among us, that we have red-taped our economy into decline. We cannot continue to stifle business because of a few unscrupulous individuals. We have to free up the business sector for growth. We must activate the systems to catch and punish the corrupt, whoever they are and wherever they are. We have to cut the red tape," Simpson Miller said in her Budget presentation.
Davies said the Government is "now determining a system where activities can take place concurrently. There is no reason for you to wait in a sequential manner".
His statement was made against the background of what he said is an unnecessary and costly lag time for the implementation of projects in the public sector.
Davies told legislators that, when the new administration took office in January 2012, the average time between an RFP being advertised and a contract being presented to the Infrastructure Subcommittee of Cabinet was between 18 months to two years.
"This interregnum can only have negative implications. Costs would inevitably increase over such a period; certifications of contractors could have lapsed ... and worse yet, if a project was conceived of 18 months or two years ago because of an immediate need, can you imagine what the situation is 18 months or two years later," Davies said.
He added: "When the Infrastructure Subcommittee considers the proposed contract, even if they were given immediate approval, actual project implementation would bring its own set of problems and delays."
The minister told legislators that the Government aims to make the whole process - from issuance of a RFP to approval by Cabinet, last three months, "and for that to become the norm, rather than the exception."
"There can be no doubt that the reduction in the time which elapses between the issuance of RFPs to the beginning of actual work on the project will translate into cost savings, all of which can be achieved without spending one additional cent," Davies said.