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OCG to 'train' permanent secretaries

Published:Tuesday | March 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

COMMENTS BY at least two parliamentarians last week, regarding the slow pace of the procurement process, have apparently triggered action by the Greg Christie-led Office of the Contractor General (OCG).

The OCG said yesterday that it would begin a series of special procurement-related training presentations for permanent secretaries and accountable officers of some 200 public bodies.

According to the contract oversight body, the presentations would help to sensitise permanent secretaries and their accountable officers to their respective roles and responsibilities in the public-sector procurement practices.

It will also seek to highlight and correct deficiencies in public body procurement practices.

The presentations will start with key ministries, departments and agencies of Government which will soon be carrying out major procurements.

Comments by the opposition spokesman on finance Audley Shaw and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, last week in Parliament, about the failure of certain public bodies to implement projects in a timely manner, drew a sharp response from Christie.

Type of madness

Shaw had argued there was "a certain type of madness that is approaching around this whole procurement process" which he said needed urgent attention. Phillips contended that the country was "losing opportunities for expanded growth because of the cumbersomeness and constipatedness (sic) of the whole (procurement) process".

Christie had warned the executive and the legislative arms of government not to do anything which could be "perceived as diluting the checks and the balances which have been painstakingly inserted into Jamaica's procurement regulatory system to stem the endemic corruption in public contracting that Jamaica is perceived to be mired in".

The OCG boss had argued that the comments by Shaw and Phillips, given the context within which they were made, would suggest that the Government's procurement rules and/or the oversight monitoring of the system by the OCG should be relaxed as they were impeding efficiency in the procurement process and obstructing national economic growth.

However, Christie noted that nothing could be further from the truth.

The first round of presentations, to be conducted by OCG officials, will target a number of public bodies which have exhibited weaknesses in their procurement practices.

During March, the ministries of transport, works and housing, justice, local government and community development, and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, and their respective public bodies will participate in the first presentations.