Government and Chamber Agree: Tender Process is the Best Approach for Implementing a Single Window

Last week the Minister of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte, convened a meeting to resolve the significant disconnect between the key stakeholders in the Trade and Logistics framework.

Emma Hippolyte
Minister of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte

After opening comments by the Honorable Minister, Ministry officials made an introductory presentation, going to great lengths to stress that there had been no Request for Quotes issued by Government in seeking to identify a provider of the Single Window Solution. Notwithstanding this, a provider was recommended by the Ministry of the Public Service, the lead agency in Government’s digitization drive under eGov.

The Customs and Excise Department expressed serious concern over the recommended solution provider, primarily related to absence of proof of concept. As an integral user of a trade single window, and lead agency with responsibility for trade, it was difficult to imagine the Government agreeing to proceed along the recommended path.

It was further disclosed that the St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority apparently had not been involved in the process nor were they in attendance at the meeting.

The Chamber, having been involved in the Single Window discussion from inception several years ago, was unable to support the approach recommended by the Department of Public Sector Modernization. The St. Lucia Manufacturers Association, too, agreed with the Chamber and the Customs & Excise Department. The paramount issue here was that any system of this nature, national importance, and cost, MUST be acquired through a transparent and well administered tender process.  This, the Chamber strongly felt, was the only way for Saint Lucia to ensure that it was getting the right system with best value for citizens.

In the end, it was agreed and decided that a tender process to select the most appropriate Single Window Solution Provider will be launched.  The Minister lamented the further delay this will lead to but, clearly discretion was seen to be the better part of valor.

The absence of a standard technical specification for the System that all potential solution providers could respond to was seen as a major flaw in the previous process and akin to a direct award.

The Minister has since convened a Trade & Logistics Task Force charged with creating a specification for the system and the attendant tender documents.  The task force will be chaired by SLASPA’s COO, Ms. Grace Parkinson.  The Chamber has named Mr. Gerard Bergasse as its representative.

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