Public sector procurement, the process by which government purchases goods, works and services, is an important economic activity in the Cook Islands.
It involves striking a balance between getting value for money for the taxpayer’s dollar and allowing local suppliers to supply to government, an MFEM release says.
That balance will become even more important over the next two years as the Government pursues greater investments in the infrastructure area.
“Ultimately our public sector procurement processes needs to have integrity where Cook Islanders taxpayers believe that balance is reasonable and development partners also have faith to use Cook Islands systems instead of their own, to ensure that their own taxpayers are satisfied that value for money is being achieved with their money,” the release said.
Public sector procurement in the Cook Islands is a decentralised process. Responsibility for procurement rests mostly with agencies who are guided by policies and procedures provided through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management.
A review of the Cook Islands’ public procurement systems was conducted in May 2012, highlighting a number of weaknesses that needed addressing.
“In the past two years many of the issues raised in that review have been addressed in a gradual and methodical process,” the release said.
Improvements include the creation of standard procurement templates and revision of the government procurement policy which is now implemented and available to the public.
There has also been development of a central procurement information portal, development of a job description for an MFEM procurement officer and continual publication of the capital plan – Budget Book 3, to aid in procurement planning.
On December 2 MFEM released the Cook Islands Procurement guidelines (CIPG). These form part of the overall Cook Islands Government Financial Policies and Procedures manual which guides agencies with public financial management responsibilities.
The guidelines consolidate procurement guidance in one area and incorporate changes to the overall procurement policy framework.
These are specifically aimed at ensuring more activities go to the market and that local suppliers are aware of the opportunities that are available.