The Government of Guyana is seeking to hasten the process that will bring into effect a key provision in the Small Business Act of 2004 to enable 20% of state procurement contracts to go to small businesses.
Earlier this week, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Bureau (SBB) Dr. Lowell Porter told Stabroek Business that the Bureau has been handed responsibility for supporting the development and implementation of the policy. In this regard, Dr. Porter told this newspaper that the SBB is currently “collaborating with the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) to make this happen.”
According to Dr. Porter the SBB and NPTAB have exchanged databases in an effort to identify and subsequently approve those small business that are interested in providing services to the Government of Guyana. He said that coming out of the deliberations between the two entities a compulsory registration form has been developed.
“By early January 2018, notices will be in all the major newspapers advising interested suppliers that they need to fill out the forms” which the SBB’s CEO says will be accessible on the Ministry of Finance’s and the Bureau’s websites. He said that the form will capture all the important information on the supplier, which information will then be used to create what he described as a “registry of approved suppliers.”
According to Dr. Porter suppliers will be assigned a special identity number confirming their approved status.
“The Registry will then be shared with all government ministries, agencies, municipalities etc, so that they can, in turn, procure services, goods from this list. Porter told Stabroek Business that the structure being set up to facilitate the arrangement will position government to possess the data that confirms whether or not state agencies are meeting the 20% allocation for small businesses and will also identify those entities that are not meeting that target.
“Each year, the Government of Guyana (GoG) spends billions of dollars procuring goods and services. We know for a fact that many small businesses were contracted by the government ministries and agencies. However we do not know how much of the billions spent went to small businesses”, he said.
Meanwhile, Porter told Stabroek Business that it was understandable that achieving a significant change in purchasing practices throughout the various state agencies will require training and on-going communications.
“The Ministry of Business will implement the new practices in phases, as the purchasing Ministries develop the expertise to set aside a portion of purchases for small businesses, he added.
According to Porter the initial set of small business contracts will be viewed as a pilot and the programme will “expand and evolve” based on lessons learnt in the initial programme.
The SBB Chief Executive Officer also alluded to the likelihood that the implementation phase was likely to involve expenditure associated with, among other things, the purchase of software, data collection and training.
“Once the programme is implemented both SBB and GOG will be able to effectively measure the percentage of Government Procurement that was given to small businesses. This no doubt will facilitate the procurement for small businesses which will also increase their capacity,” he added.