DR. ELSIE CHOUNOUNE // Procurement Seminar

Jun 26, 2013

• Honourable Minister Anthony Hylton, Minister of Industry, Investment & Commerce
• Mr. Francis Kennedy – President, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce
• Ms. Therese Turner Jones – IDB Representative
• Ladies and gentleman, good morning.

It is my pleasure to be a part of this Procurement Seminar, which is a collaborative effort between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Ministry of Finance & Planning (MOFP). This seminar is expected to cover, among other areas, the procedures and opportunities that exist within procurement for Jamaica. Given UN’s mission to assist in the overall development of Jamaica, especially in the area of capacity building, and the Jamaica Chambers of Commerce’s overarching mission of enhancing the competitiveness and profitability of its members, this seminar’s objective is to equip local firms with the knowledge base to take advantage of potential opportunities that exist for the provision of goods and services to regional/international entities and projects.

Specifically, this seminar aims to familiarize the Jamaican business community with potential business opportunities that arise from national and international procurement needs, as a result of the development initiatives of multilateral bodies and the government. Additionally, this seminar also aims to bring about efficiency and effectiveness in the procedures for accessing these opportunities.  This seminar represents an opportunity to update the Jamaican business community on the national and CARICOM decisions that impact regional procurement efforts and policies.

This two-day workshop is being supported by the UN Procurement Group, and it presents a good opportunity for the UN system to strengthen collaboration with the Jamaican private sector.  Fortuitously, this seminar is timely given the very constructive effort of the UN’s Operations Management Team to tailor the UN Jamaica’s Business Operations Strategy (BOS) to UN Jamaica's needs that, inter alia include reduction of the transaction costs of procurement. An expected output of the workshop will be the creation of a database of supplier of goods and services, which UN agencies will be able to call upon as needed.

The Government’s procurement policies and procedures are an important aspect of the management of the public finances. These procurement policies and procedures provide oversight for the expenditure of public funds and are important checks and balances for the stewards of these public funds. The Jamaican constitution, which sets out the basic principles for efficient management of public resources, provides the foundations for public financial management in the country.  Procurement is important for development projects in that it constitutes a major aspect of them and is directly related to the projects’ delivery. The UN can help Jamaica achieve its procurement goals by introducing more flexibility, provide access to a wide range of world experts, and improve transparency and accountability. The UN can work together with the Government of Jamaica to facilitate the procurement of goods and services in line with the Government’s requirements.

The UN procurement process involves a wide-range of activities including: acquisition planning; drafting; reviewing or approving Specifications, Statements of Work (SOWs) and Terms of Reference (TORs); identifying, registering and evaluating Vendors; preparing and developing Solicitations; evaluating Bids or Proposals; Source Selection; negotiating price or terms and conditions of Contracts; reviewing and approving awards of Contracts; providing legal services including drafting Contracts; signing Contracts and Purchase Orders; receiving and inspecting goods or services; performing oversight services; managing Contracts; reviewing Vendor Performance; certifying, approving and making payments pursuant to large and complex Contracts; and handling Vendor protests or disputes regarding the procurement process.

The UN’s staff members must adhere to the ethical standards and responsibilities that apply to procurement activities in order to protect the integrity, fairness and transparency of the procurement process. The funds used by the United Nations are entrusted to the Organisation by its Member States and other Parties. The transactions engaged in by the UN are conducted in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards in order to ensure the maximum degree of public trust.

The UN System in Jamaica is rather extensive, and thus, has diverse procurement needs. The United Nations in Jamaica comprises the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF); the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Women, United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

Although functioning under different mandates, the UN Agencies’ procurement principles require that all goods and services be sourced through competitive solicitations that are in full conformity with local and international financial regulations and rules. Supporting this, they focus on economy and best value for money, representing the best return on the investment; fairness, integrity and transparency; and effective competition.
The time is ripe for the private sector to position itself to effectively benefit from the international and national procurement needs that will continue to arise through the development assistance work being done in Jamaica. There is a high demand in the procurement of consultancy services; corporate goods, and services relating to among other things infrastructure upgrades, IT equipment, office consumables, catering, cleaning and printing services, and project-related goods and services relating to among other things, transportation, farm equipment and other technical resource material, such as the multi-million dollar renewable energy equipment being financed by the IDB for large-scale wind farms, solar power systems for rural areas, biofuel facilities that co-generate electricity and programmes to promote efficient lighting. Of note, in 2012, global investments in alternative renewable technologies alone (i.e. solar, wind, geothermal, ocean, small-scale hydropower and advanced bio-energy) and traditional hydropower amounted to $244 billion. With rising fuel costs, there will be an increased demand for alternative renewable energy technologies in particular.

This workshop presents a great opportunity for the UN system to strengthen collaboration with the Jamaican private sector, and for the private sector to strengthen its procurement ties with other international and national partners that will continue to have a high demand for goods and services. The UN seeks to build the capacity of the private sector to be better able to meet the diverse procurement demands for goods and services, as we see this as key area in which the local economy can be boosted. This will benefit the private sector, benefit the Government and people of Jamaica, and further strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to deliver development projects.

We, at the United Nations, will continue to identify and implement appropriate interventions that meet the human development needs of Jamaicans. This initiative supports our overarching goal of achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring that there is sustainable development beyond 2015. The assistance being given to Jamaica will help to further put the country on a path to realizing the Vision 2030 Jamaica, and thus truly make Jamaica ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’.

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