May 21, 1998
(Works, Services and Transportation)

The following statement was issued today by Lloyd Matthews, Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I rise today to inform hnourable members that I will table amendments to the Public Tender Act in the House of Assembly this afternoon. Earlier today, representatives of various groups and organizations joined with me in a press conference to outline the general directions of those amendments.

I would first of all like to acknowledge the interest in this consultation exercise and express my appreciation to all interest groups for their cooperation and for their candid discussion of the issues surrounding the Public Tender Act. During the consultation process, more than 100 individuals attended the public information sessions and my department received more than 40 written submissions. This was an open process which fostered debate and dialogue on how legislation governing procurement practices should be structured.

We heard a lot of positive comments about the Public Tender Act and about the importance of preserving the spirit of the Act and the principles of fairness, competition and openness. The amendments I am introducing into the House today respect and maintain those principles.

Among some of the more significant amendments is the establishment of a registry of locally produced products which will be used as a reference point, wherever possible, in calling tenders. This move is intended to give local businesses a fair opportunity to bid on government contracts, and on subcontracts. Also, we will be making provisions to allow Requests for Proposals under special circumstances. In addition, exemptions for economic development purposes will be permitted in some instances. Government is also introducing a modest increase in thresholds for inflationary purposes. As well, we are opening the door to electronic tendering by removing the statutory requirement for advertising all tender calls in a generally circulated newspaper.

For the most part, the way we procure goods and services will not change. Low price will continue to be the primary factor in awarding contracts, however, we must also make provisions for unique instances that may arise from time to time.

The amendments that I am tabling today represent the views and concerns of a variety of groups and organizations representing both the private and public sectors. We have worked closely with all of our partners to strengthen the legislation for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

1998 05 21 2:15 p.m.


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