The Caribbean Community including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was established by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas 2001. The Community comprises 15 member states Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Several of the CARICOM Member States are also members of the OECS. Click Here for more information relation to the OECS & Public Procurement. The Revised Treaty provides the justification for the establishment and implementation of a regional Public Procurement Regime. Article 239 of the Revised Treaty obliges Member States to “elaborate a Protocol relating …to… Government Procurement”.
To date, the Community has undertaken and concluded a significant volume of work regarding the establishment of a Community Regime for Public Procurement. A project was commissioned in 2003 by the CARICOM Secretariat with a grant from the IDB and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The object of the project was to support CARICOM in its efforts to establish an effective regional regime for Public Procurement which would facilitate the full implementation of the CSME and to participate effectively in external trade negotiations relating to Public Procurement. The project comprised three main components. Component 1 – National Government Procurement Frameworks: Analysis, Comparison and Recommended Improvements; Component 2 – Collection and Analysis of Government Procurement Statistics; and Component 3 – Recommendations for a Regional Best-practice Regime for Government Procurement.
Competitive public procurement regimes in the CARICOM Member States are in a disarray and dysfunctional
Public Procurement accounts for a significant percentage of public expenditure
In 2003, 14 of the 15 CARICOM Member States ranked in the top 30 of the World’s highly indebted emerging market economies (Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and Belize were in the top ten)
The current legislation governing procurement in CARICOM Member States is made up of poorly coordinated and outdated enactments, regulations and decrees
The weakness of legislation and/or their enforcement breeds many abusive and manipulative practices in public procurement
Enforcement of procurement rules is extremely weak and sometimes non-existent due to the absence of a single regulatory authority
The rights of bidders are not adequately protected
Capacity to conduct procurement is extremely weak
Internal and external procurement controls are inadequate
Procurement related corruption is a major problem
Due to the small size of individual economies, the private sector actively seeks public procurement opportunities, albeit with little or no confidence in the integrity of the public procurement system
Public Procurement is severely under-developed and rated as high risk
The general conclusion was that the present procurement regimes are counter productive towards the efforts of CSME
The dismal picture painted by the findings of the CARICOM research project demonstrated the dire need for comprehensive procurement reform. One of the significant recommendations of the project was that the proposed regional and domestic public procurement legislative and policy reforms should be based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.
In 2005 the First Draft of the Community Policy on Public Procurement was developed and disseminated to Member States for review. By April 2006 the Second Draft was finalized. Presently there is a third draft and the CARICOM Secretariat has been actively engaged in follow up communications with Member States in pursuit of concluding the national consultations that are required as a key input into the finalisation of the Policy framework and movement towards the Protocol. The proposed policy now called the Framework for Regional Integration of Public Procurement (FRIPP) is in its fifth draft stage.
Notably, the proposed Community Policy is expressed to be based in large part on the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services.
The UN Model Law was revised in 2011 and replaces the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law on Procurement of Goods, Construction and Services. While the 1994 text was recognized as an important international benchmark in procurement law reform, in 2004, the Commission agreed that the 1994 Model Law would benefit from being updated to reflect new practices, in particular those resulting from the use of electronic communications in public procurement, and the experience gained in the use of that Model Law as a basis for law reform. Nonetheless, the principles and main procedures from the 1994 text, the foundation of its success, have not been changed.
On October 15th 2008 all CARICOM Member States with the exception of Guyana and Haiti signed the CARIFORUM-EC EPA which marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of their economic relationship. Guyana later signed on October 20, 2008 and Haiti signed the Agreement on December 11 2009. The Agreement will officially enter into force pending the completion of the process of ratification by the member states. However, until then CARIFORUM and Europe will provisionally apply the EPA. Through provisional application, the European Community and the signatory CARIFORUM States will be able to benefit from the terms of the Agreement.
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and The European Community have notified the completion of the procedures necessary for provisional application of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (1), in accordance with Article 243 of that Agreement. Consequently the Agreement applies provisionally from 29 December 2008.
By 2013 six states have ratified the EPA - Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Dominica Republic Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago
The EPA was historic as it was the first multi-lateral trade agreement between the developed and developing world which included public procurement conditions. DOWNLOAD the final EPA text here. For EPA annexes click here.
1. Inter- American Convention Against Corruption (IACC)
All CARICOM nations are members of the Organization of American States (OAS) and of the United Nations (UN). Most have signed and ratified the 1996 Inter- American Convention Against Corruption (IACC), committing these nations to the following two objectives:
• To promote and strengthen the development by each of the States parties of the mechanisms needed to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption; and
• To promote, facilitate and regulate cooperation among the States Parties to ensure the effectiveness of measures and actions to prevent, detect, punish and eradicate corruption in the performance of public functions and acts of corruption specifically related to such performance.
Most nations have also signed the IACC Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation (MESICIC). This mechanism serves to study implementation of the IACC commitments, facilitate technical cooperation activities, exchanges of information, experience, and best practices, and the harmonization of the States Parties’ domestic legislations. Six countries have yet to sign MESICIC, which could provide substantial support in implementing required reforms. They are: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia.
CARICOM State parties to the IACC have presented Report on Implementation of the provisions selected for review in the first round (2005-2006). Among them: The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The Committee of Experts reviewed and evaluated the reports and made recommendations to each country. Among some of the key recommendations are the following items:
• Establishing conflict of interest regime at all levels and branches of government;
• Designing and implementing training programs for public servants in charge of applying the systems, measures and mechanisms indicated in the report;
• Establishing mechanisms to encourage civil society and non-governmental organizations to participate in public administration;
• Updating controls to make proper use of the resources entrusted to public servants in the performance of their functions;
• Regulating the conditions, procedures and other relevant aspects as regards making disclosures of income, assets, and liabilities public;
• Adopting freedom of information legislation and mechanisms to implement it;
Each country should implement the recommendations made by MESICIC in order to be in compliance with the IACC.
2. United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)
CARICOM members have not readily accepted the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Despite the technical assistance offered to parties signatories to the Convention, few CARICOM members have joined. In fact, as of May 2007, only Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago had signed the UNCAC and only Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica had ratified it.