PED Remarks

Remarks by Hon. Philip E. “Brave” Davis, K.C., M.P. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Commonwealth of The Bahamas at the Official Launch of the GoBonfire eProcurement Platform Margaritaville Beach Resort 2 Bay St, Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas Monday, 3rd October 2022, 9:00 a.m.

I am very pleased to be here to launch GoBonfire, the eProcurment platform through which goods.. and services for all government and quasi-government will be sourced.

Ladies and Gentlemen
Our colonial history provides that anoligarchy concentrated cliques of wealth, excluding the masses from opportunities to conduct business with Government. Those exclusions were born of the system of the day. With the introduction of Majority Rule and the subsequent emergence of an independent Bahamas, wealth was more accessible as evidenced by a rapidly expanding middle class. That is the history of the modern Bahamas and it is impossible to avoid acknowledging that the commitment of the Progressive Liberal Party “to wipe the tear from every eye” is rooted in the objective to broaden the base of wealth.

In this New Day, we are focused on building on that commitment. That is why Our Blueprint for Change includes our Economic Plan to bring relief and dignity to Bahamians bycreating more dynamic and inclusive solutionsto kickstart the economy. These solutions will derive from creating jobs, revolutionising education and training, and
incentivising the creation of new industries and new opportunities.

Procurement is the basis of democracy, nation building, and strong, well-functioning economies; and it is often said that perception is reality.

This is because an impression of something defines how it is seen, regardless of the truth. When we look at the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Transparency International for 2021, The Bahamas ranked 30 th out of 183
countries with a score of 64 out of 100.

Particularly, firms in the United States of America identified corruption as an obstacle to foreign direct investment (FDI) approvals process and reported perceived corruption in government procurement. 1 That is why we committed to fiscal consolidation and the modernisation of infrastructure to justify and procure public goods and services in an efficient, transparent, and accountable manner.

This New Day Government is solidly resolved in its ideals of good governance, integrity, and accountability.
Procurement will necessarily be affected by our transformative co-dependent policy advances that require amendments to the Public Financial Management Act, the Public Procurement Act, and the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

A new Public Procurement Bill will soon be publicised for consultation. GoBonfire is a necessary change.
The retiring platform was launched in 2005, well before the passage of the Public Procurement Act, 2021.

Unfortunately, its age limited its function. Our Blueprint for Change speaks directly to digital transformation and, specifically, the Government Procurement Platform. GoBonfire aligns with our Ease-of-Doing-Business
approach to rescue the economy. From anywhere, a business entity can submit proposals for procurement opportunities with government and quasi-government agencies. For fiscal year 2022/2023, we have allocated approximately $795M dollars for recurrent and capital expenditure. That represents vast procurement opportunities for goods and services and for construction services.

The budget is structured around three priorities:
(1) managing the cost of living for Bahamians;
(2) creating and expanding jobs and ownership opportunities for Bahamians;
(3) enhancing the safety and security of our communities and borders.

The focal activities of the GoBonfire eProcurement Platform embrace our governance ideals and provide the requisite solution to facilitate our objective. From GoBonfire, we will assist Government by enhancing our ability to gather accurate, real- time data to inform decision-making, to ensure that obligations (including payments) are being met on time, and to monitor the life cycle of the project. We have carefully selected this solution because it will ensure that procurement is consistent across the public sector, reducing cost without compromising quality, minimising product failures, and assuring operational efficiency to improve outputs of the supply chain.

The fallout from Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic left many suppliers struggling to meet their business obligations because of lockdowns and business uncertainty. Contracting agencies, therefore, must act to support their at-risk suppliers and potential suppliers, carefully avoiding the imposition of unnecessary burdens or constraints, so that they are better able to participate in procurement activities.

While we accept the merits of competitive procurement processes, legislation for intentionally discriminatory practices to ensure that small businesses, Family Island vendors, and women are afforded access to and
opportunities for participation in the economy. By our Blueprint, we also committed to allocate 5% of all Government procurement contracts to businesses owned by young Bahamians.

Small businesses, Family Island businesses, businesses owned by women, and businesses owned by young Bahamians will be monitored as key performance indicators (KPIs) for this Administration.

However, for the sake of clarity, let me say this. Nobody should be deprived of opportunities to contribute to national development through procurement. With this, I strongly recommend all vendors to take ten (10) minutes to register to compete equitably for goods and services that will be offered via GoBonfire.

Training is a necessary and continual action to ensure that procurement stakeholders, public and private, have adequate knowledge on how the portal works and what is required from each party to ensure that the application is meets the users’ objectives.

Before I conclude, I have a special word for procurement officers. I urge you to discharge your responsibilities
with integrity. Be constantly aware of procurement risks. If you have to hide what you are about to do, you are likely on the wrong track. Think again.

You can do good for your entire life to build your reputation. One bad act…one misstep and you could lose it all.


Ladies and Gentlemen
For achieving this milestone, I thank my colleague Minister of Economic Affairs, Sen. Hon. Michael Halkitis; Simon Wilson, Financial Secretary; Carl Oliver, Deputy Director Economic Planning, and other hardworking staff within the Ministry of Finance. In a few minutes, technical officers from GoBonfire will provide a thorough reviews of GoBonfire. My Cabinet colleagues have seen it and we fully endorse its provisions.

I wish you a productive session.

Thank you.

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