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US$40m in projects for the taking

Over the coming months local private sector operators will have an opportunity to benefit from over US$40 million as Government seeks to procure goods, works and consultancy services for a number of ongoing projects.

The projects are being funded through sovereign-guaranteed loans and technical corporation grants, as well as Multilateral Investment Fund grants from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), totalling about US$156 million.

They include the Water And Sanitation System Upgrade, the Coastal Risk Assessment And Management Programme, Skills For The Future, Energy Smart Fund, the Public Sector Smart Energy (PSSE) Programme, the Barbados Competitiveness Programme and the modernization of the Barbados Statistical Service.

The IDB, in association with Government, last week hosted a procurement fair at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre where private sector officials were made aware of the various components of the projects. They also had an opportunity to find out if they were eligible to bid for the various projects and were given useful tips on common mistakes to avoid during the bidding process.

The Central Purchasing Department will be responsible for offering those bids when they are opened and it will be supervised by the IDB.

Delivering the feature address, Senator Jepter Ince said between 2009 and 2013 the IDB had approved US$242 million loans for some of the island’s development projects.

This, he said, represented a substantial portion of the island’s loan portfolio and it translates into business opportunities for suppliers of goods, works and services in all the member countries of the IDB, including Barbados.

Ince said, however, he wanted to see more local private sector operators benefiting from the various projects.

“Achieving the objective of great participation of Barbados’ private sector in these procurement opportunities will be of significant benefit to this country. As it stands, the majority of the business generated through the IDB-funded projects is concentrated out of foreign consultants and suppliers who must be paid in foreign exchange. Much less foreign exchange would be utilized through the keeping of a greater portion of foreign loan and grant proceeds here in Barbados if more of this foreign-financed business is contracted to players in our local private sector,” explained Ince.

“Contracting to suppliers external to Barbados minimizes the amount of private sector development that can occur within our economic space. Winning a greater portion of government contracts will allow our local businesses to grow at a faster rate which would then translate into greater job creation in our economy, more money and more jobs in Barbados [which] would help put our economy back on a sustainable growth path and development.”

Ince urged the local business sector to not only offer goods and services at an attractive price, but to provide high quality goods and “world-class service”, adding that the fair was only the “first step”.

“Our private sector players must take the other steps to ensure that they can successfully compete with the regional and international suppliers in the individual sectors to win, if not all, a significant portion of the numerous procurement contracts offered under the current and future loan programmes between the Government of Barbados and the IDB, as well as Barbados’ other development partners,” he added.

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