Government has established a Cabinet Subcommittee to look into small contractors’ involvement in the public procurement system, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon.Minister of State Joseph HarmonThe subcommittee was established following many concerns raised by the contractors at a recent symposium held by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) for new entrants into the pool of prequalified companies that are awarded government contracts.The Minister of State disclosed at the post-Cabinet briefing on Wednesday last that the issue grabbed the attention of Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.“It was agreed that every effort would be made to give legitimate support to small contractors, including their involvement in the public procurement process, and in this regard, Cabinet had mandated that a committee headed by Prime Minister (Moses Nagamootoo),” he stated.The other members of the subcommittee include the Ministers of: Legal Affairs, Basil Williams; Public Infrastructure, David Patterson; Business, Dominic Gaskin; Finance, Winston Jordan, and Communities, Ronald Bulkan.Harmon noted that the committee will look at how best small contractors can be incorporated into government’s procurement system.According to the Minister of State, the decision to establish a subcommittee was taken to create a level playing field and for small contractors to be given the opportunities they deserve.He pointed to the reference in the Small Business Act that says that at least 20 per cent of State contracts should be awarded to small contractors.“The question is how do you quantify that; what mechanisms you put in place to guarantee that that happens? So these are things the committee will look at and see how best we can give effect to what is already there in the law,” he outlined.Moreover, the Minister explained that the subcommittee will have to come up with recommendations to be handed over to the subject minister for implementation after approval by Cabinet.However, Harmon noted that Minister David Patterson has already embarked on the process with the recent procurement seminar during which the MPI meaningfully engaged contractors.The symposium provided the opportunity for small and new contractors to learn more on the National Procurement Act and prequalification for contracts as well as how to become compliant with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); National Insurance Scheme (NIS); and local insurance.Participants were also enlightened about the bid evaluation process and were made privy to a simulation bid submission. The simulation highlighted the “dos and don’ts” of bid submissions by providing participants with realistic examples.Additionally, focus was placed on informing participants on the contract award process as well as the protest process.Government recently established the ‘Bid Protest Committee’ in an effort to ensure transparency and accountability in the procurement process. This committee allows contractors who are not satisfied with the evaluation to make an objection to the process.One company has already made an objection to the Committee. Cevon’s Waste Management Inc recently filed objections to the award of the $221 million contract to Puran Brothers Inc for the management of the Haags-Bosch Landfill site at Eccles Industris Estate, East Bank Demerara.Puran Bros Inc had emerged the most suitable contractor to maintain the disposal site from a lineup of several bidders and bagged the 12-month contract which was signed last Thursday.