‘Use Purchasing Power To Promote Equality’

July 27, 2020 | 16 Comments

“Government’s vision to use its purchasing power to promote equality of opportunity with regard to disability, gender and race, is being fully met,” Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday [July 24], the Minister said, “For decades, business owners who joined the right golf club, went to the right private school or knew the right people, would always win Government contracts.

“Having been awarded a contract once, they would subsequently get more contracts; partly by doing good work, and partly by ‘playing the game’ to get another contract. Some businesses being more successful than others is normal as we choose to live in a capitalist society, but not if that success is earned by unfair practices.

“Our aim is to replicate the success of awarding contracts to small business, and we intend to use Government’s purchasing power to promote equality of opportunity with regard to Disability, Gender, and Race.

“We will still seek to utilise the Public Purse to create opportunities for business owners who were marginalised in the past, particularly Black-owned small businesses; as well as others deemed ‘unsuitable’ by past Governments. If we genuinely want to diversify our economy and economically empower those Bermudians who up until now have not had a piece of the economic pie, we must take steps to make this happen.

“To make this happen we are working on identifying, as we did for small businesses, all those companies that are doing business with Government as far as Disability, Gender or race, in regards to at least 51% ownership. Once this is determined, then based on Government’s approved matrix system, these companies will score a higher grade, hence having the opportunity to receive more contracts from Government.

“We have learned that the impact of the Government purse is so strong that maintaining ‘the status quo’ is not good enough. Talking is not good enough; action must be taken, and action we will take.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, the Office of Project Management and Procurement [OPMP] was established in 2011 to regulate all procurement of goods, services, and works in the public sector. However, the Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement was not introduced until July 2nd 2018.

Mr. Speaker, the Government recognizes that Public Procurement Policy must be both robust and flexible, in order to systematically and practically address the changing economic needs of Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Code have elevated our procurement processes in line with international best practices and standards. Public bodies now have more flexibility in choosing procurement methods that will help achieve greater business value while also mitigating potential contractual risks.

Mr Speaker, the latest version of the Code, which Cabinet recently approved and came into effect on July 01 2020, allows Public Officers to be creative and flexible in their approach to procurement. Understanding and adaptation of the Code is key to promoting consistency and a standard approach across the public sector, thereby reducing inefficiencies often associated with regulatory matters.

Mr. Speaker, in summary, the changes to the Code are as follows:

1. The Code was amended to include two additional categories to which the Code does not apply, however; they do require approvals from the appropriate Accounting Officer or the Financial Secretary. They are:

  • a. Media, communication, and public relations companies with the approval of the Accounting officer; and
  • b. Accounting and auditing firms for specific services with the approval of the Financial Secretary;

2. A new Procurement Review Committee has been established to review all Unsolicited Proposals [USP’s]. This Committee is created to assist with the assessment and evaluation of USP’s that are submitted to various Government Ministries. The Committee will consist of the Financial Secretary, Permanent Secretary responsible for OPMP, and the Director of OPMP.

3. The Procurement Thresholds and Approval of Contracts values have been amended.

Procurement thresholds have three levels, and new procurement methods apply:

  • Under $10,000.
  • $10,000 to $49,999 and;
  • $50,000 to $99,999.

These changes are covered under section 11 of the Code.

The Intermediate Value Procurement threshold has increased to values of $100,000 to $249,999.

The High-Value Procurement threshold has increased to above $250,000 and is covered under section 13 of the Code.

4. The Single Source Procurement [section 24 of this Code] has been amended as follows:

Public Officers no longer have to obtain prior approval from the Director of OPMP; however, Public Officers must inform the Director of OPMP of their single-source procurement. The Director of OPMP may conduct an inquiry to determine justification and process steps. The Director shall report quarterly to Cabinet in matters of compliance.

Mr. Speaker, the steps that were taken improved efficiencies within the system, but do not go far enough to ensure economic growth and prosperity within small business, gender, race and disability ownership.

Mr Speaker, to ensure that the Government’s aim is being met, there has to be a way of measuring success based on Government’s aim.

Mr. Speaker, Members may not be aware but in Bermuda, a ‘small business’ is defined under the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation Act which states:

“Small business” means a Bermudian-owned and owner-operated business enterprise with gross annual sales of less than one million dollars; or an annual payroll of less than five hundred thousand dollars.”

As a result of that definition and due to technical work at the Accountant General’s Office to identify and label vendors, I can report the Government’s success in awarding contracts to Small Businesses.

Mr. Speaker, since 2017, the Government has awarded more than $38 million dollars in contracts to small businesses. They figures are as follows:

  • Financial Year 2017 – 2018 $13M
  • Financial Year 2018 – 2019 $13M
  • Financial Year 2019 – Jan 2020 $12M

Three years prior $33M was paid out to small businesses, as follows:

  • Financial Year 2014 – 2015 $12M
  • Financial Year 2015 – 2016 $11M
  • Financial Year 2016 –2017 $10M

Mr. Speaker, for the first time a Government is able to identify and measure the value of what it pays to small business. But, this does not go far enough. Government’s vision to use its purchasing power to promote equality of opportunity with regard to disability, gender and race, is being fully met.

Mr. Speaker, for decades, business owners who joined the right golf club, went to the right private school or knew the right people, would always win Government contracts. Having been awarded a contract once, they would subsequently get more contracts; partly by doing good work, and partly by ‘playing the game’ to get another contract. Some businesses being more successful than others is normal as we choose to live in a capitalist society, but not if that success is earned by unfair practices.

Mr. Speaker, this Government is not going to rest on its laurels and pat itself on the back; we are pushing for further diversity. Our aim is to replicate the success of awarding contracts to small business, and we intend to use Government’s purchasing power to promote equality of opportunity with regard to Disability, Gender, and Race.

Mr. Speaker, we will still seek to utilise the Public Purse to create opportunities for business owners who were marginalised in the past, particularly Black-owned small businesses; as well as others deemed ‘unsuitable’ by past Governments. If we genuinely want to diversify our economy and economically empower those Bermudians who up until now have not had a piece of the economic pie, we must take steps to make this happen.

Mr. Speaker, to make this happen we are working on identifying, as we did for small businesses, all those companies that are doing business with Government as far as Disability, Gender or race, in regards to at least 51% ownership. Once this is determined, then based on Government’s approved matrix system, these companies will score a higher grade, hence having the opportunity to receive more contracts from Government.

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the impact of the Government purse is so strong that maintaining ‘the status quo’ is not good enough. Talking is not good enough; action must be taken, and action we will take.

Mr. Speaker, it vital that business owners know that Government is ‘Open for Your Business’…because it is and we are.

Thank You, Mr Speaker.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Jack Archer says:

    so why have you given two big contracts – the sewage in St david’s and the arbitration centre – to a US company?

  2. Ringmaster says:

    The Minister only uses stats for the past 3 years. Where are the stats for 1998 – 2012? The PLP were the Government during that period despite trying to pretend they weren’t. Probably because they don’t want people to remember disasters like Berkely and Pro Active and the non existent $10m Bond.

    Why does a certain large construction firm with direct contact to the PLP seem to be all over the island doing all sizes of jobs for Government? Not much sharing the work around based on what is seen.

    • wahoo says:

      Prior to that he was running around knocking on doors and telling everyone how bad the PLP were….Now he is one of them he must measure what he says and forget what he said.

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We will still seek to utilise the Public Purse to create opportunities for business owners who were marginalised in the past, particularly Black-owned small businesses; as well as others deemed ‘unsuitable’ by past Governments.”

    I have no problem with that, but I do find it ironic that the message comes for a former UBP leader who crossed the floor to curry favour with Dr. Brown!

  4. notebook says:

    What is he babbling on about? There has been a matrix system in place for years.

  5. Bobby Barnes says:

    It’s interesting how Zane DeSilva’s company Island Construction get contracts. When PLP was first in he had Tyne’s Bay landscaping twice then lost it because some small company got it on price, when OBA won. Then as soon as PLP got back in he had it again. At least 15 companies bid on it, there is no way that he got it as low bidder. Small black and white companies have no chance when people like him are treated differently.

  6. Proven says:

    As a legislator it is MP Furbert’s job to legislate against a clearly corrupt practice and to report wrongdoing to the relevant authority. Mr. Furbert appears to relish in the thought of the practice now that he is in a position of authority. It is difficult to believe that Bermuda’s economic success is built on such a practice – imagination running wild!

  7. History says:

    Mr Furbert, can I just say that you are out of touch with the reality of this island society. I am unable to comment on the disability portion of your proposal as I don’t have any background on this subject.
    Back in the 70′s and 80′s the big government contracts were given to the 3 largest developers who were well known for their ability to produce and complete on schedule. During this period, many of the black contractors were busy building residential units and small to medium general contracts.
    It wasn’t a question of who you knew on the golf course, it was all down to responsibility, ability and market supply and demand. During the first 13 years of the PLP government many large government contracts were given to black contractors. I’m not sure Mr Furbert what it is you are trying to tell the Bermuda public. For the past 3 years that you have been in power, why is this all suddenly appearing on the radar? You have had 16 plus years to administer the ideas that you recently published. All good stuff my friend, but there is absolutely nothing new here.

  8. Hmmm says:

    Please publish who received contracts over these years and then published who received contracts in the PLP years, and then who receives Co tracts going forward.

    Otherwise this is just pandering for votes.

  9. Sturgeon says:

    Damn! Crickets?

  10. Saywhat says:

    I wonder how people would feel if it was written “particularly white-owned small businesses”? This is why I can support the plp. This is racist as hell. Everything they do is a race related decision when there aren’t just black people living here. I wonder if they remember that black people are the majority in Bermuda.

  11. sandgrownan says:

    I love how Flip Flop brings up the tired old status quo line. What these idiots fail to understand is that they ARE the status quo. 20 years of no bid contracts, limited tendering, those involved with the PLP getting that work. It’s taken 20 years for them to get to this point? This is the great idea?

    Do we need to bring up how utterly bereft of fiscal competence everyone involved in spending public money has been during that time, and do I really need to list out all the failures? All of which have been a significant contributor to the current economic situation.

    I presume this, together with the civil service we neither need, want not can afford, is in lieu of reparations?

  12. Kathryn says:

    Why is this all suddenly appearing on the radar? Because there’s an election on the radar.

  13. Toejam Express says:

    This is as clear as mud! Mr. Furbert please break this down so that lay people, those that are the focus of your efforts, can understand how they can benefit from this scheme. Bring the jargon down from the lofty heights for once…give practical examples of how your scheme benefits lay people….the common man or woman. Speak up Mister and Mistress Bermuda and not Einstiens gathering of quantum utopian physics!! Also, when in the House of Assembly stop falling over your words and speak plainly…and make use of examples that Bermudians in general can understand. I know you to be a bright guy so please switch up your delivery style of speaking in the House.

  14. saud says:

    “Government’s vision to use its purchasing power to promote equality of opportunity with regard to disability, gender and race,”

    Yet, they’re still appealing to their good friends at the Privy council to enshrine discrimination into Bermuda law.

    Disgusting!

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