Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020. 3:53 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) charges the Government to adhere to the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance and more particularly to its own 2013 Public Procurement Procedures Handbook which regulates transactions for goods and services and is intended to steer clear of encouraging nepotism, preferential treatment and other corrupt practices.
The Chamber quotes liberally from the handbook which is intended: “provide guidance to public officials responsible for procurement… in their everyday business relating to public procurement. The Handbook is intended to guide the practice of public procurement, “ensuring compliance with the current legislation of Belize and application of procurement international best practices.” It emphasizes fundamental principles of Value for Money, Fairness and Equal Treatment, Transparency, and Integrity and Ethical Behavior.
The business organization accuses Government of operating in “grey areas on matters of conflict of interest in matters of procurement;” not satisfying the principles of fairness and equal treatment and transparency and in general not ensuring that the Public Service and the public it serves have got the best bang for their tax bucks.
The Chamber deplores the granting of certain “employment and real estate contracts that extend far beyond their term in office” without naming specifics, stating it handcuffs both the incoming administration and tax payers with heavy and unjustifiable costs, not to mention penalties for early termination, generally without a tendering and advertising process under Section 6.5 of the 2013 Handbook.
And the organization directly calls on Belmopan to abstain from entering into further longstanding contracts without a transparent tendering process and to resource and respect the watchdog offices: the Auditor General, the Contractor General, the Public Accounts Committee and the Integrity Commission. With our accelerating economic crises, it would not do, the Chamber said, to flout a “weary, overburdened” tax base.
The Government recently awarded Brads Gaming Group a ten-year contract to continue the Boledo and Lottery Franchise after tender for a year; rented to the tune of $6,000 per month the former law offices of Barrow and Williams on Albert Street for the Scenes of Crime Unit of the National Forensic Science Service (NFSS) after rejecting other potential sites; among other instances.
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