The provision of the Small Business Act of 2004 allowing for the allocation of 20% of government contracts to small businesses will be fully implemented by the end of the first quarter of 2017 though a pilot initiative designed to test the initiative will be rolled out by month end, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Bureau, Dr. Lowell Porter has told Stabroek Business.
The announcement of the 20% provision of contracts for small business, passed into law under the Small Business Act since 2004 is likely to be widely welcomed by local small and medium-scale providers and is expected to open up both contract opportunities and employment for family businesses. But Porter said that a key element in the system will have to do with the monitoring of the entities contracted to provide goods and services to state agencies with a view to ensuring that they are adequately equipped to do so. Just days ago Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin disclosed that small business operators seeking to secure government contracts will be able to secure relevant training through the Small Business Bureau (SBB).
However, in addressing the 20% allocation, the Small Business Act speaks only to “goods and services,” a circumstance which, for the moment at least, excludes building contractors comprising a significant number of small businesses in Guyana. A SBB source told this newspaper however that the exclusion is likely to be temporary since an initiative to have the Act amended in the National Assembly is “on the cards. The source told Stabroek Business that the exclusion notwithstanding, the Bureau was, nonetheless, encouraging small contractors to register to be part of its data base.
Stabroek Business understands that small business operators would be able to access training to help them bid for Government contracts. The training will be facilitated through the SBB.
Engaging the small businesses pursuing contracts with state agencies will be the direct responsibility of those agencies, Stabroek Business has learnt. However, the development and effective implementation of this policy will be the responsibility of the SBB of the Ministry of Business and the Bureau is currently collaborating with the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). Implementation, however, will be driven by a policy to bring the policy into effect before the end of January, 2018, Porter told Stabroek Business.
According to Porter, the SBB and the NPTAB have already exchanged databases with a view to identifying and approving those small businesses that are interested in providing services to the Government of Guyana. Porter told Stabroek Business that a compulsory registration form has been developed and that notices were already expected to be placed in all of the major newspapers advising interested suppliers of the availability of those forms and the need to complete them. The forms will be accessible on the websites of the Ministries of Finance and Business.
And according to the SBB’s Chief Executive Officer, information on potential suppliers will be used to create a registry of approved suppliers who will each be provided with a special Identity Number to confirm their status. The registry will then be shared with the various government ministries and municipalities across the country in order to enable them to procure goods and services from that list.
Government, Porter said, will be seeking to ensure that the initiative “makes a difference,” by acquiring the data that confirms or otherwise whether or not the 20% allocation to small businesses is being met or not and which agencies are meeting the targets.
Meanwhile, Porter told Stabroek Business that government expects that the full and effective implementation of the requisite regulations will require “a significant change in purchasing practices throughout the government.” Government, he disclosed, will seek to implement training and orientation towards this end whilst the Ministry of Business will be seeking to implement the new purchasing regime in phases “as the purchasing ministries develop the expertise to set aside a portion of purchases for small businesses.,” Porter said.