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BVI calls for review of procurement policies to help small-island states after disasters

Benito Wheatley

Special Envoy to the Government of the Virgin Islands, Benito Wheatley, is calling for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their international partners to ‘re-examine’ domestic and international procurement rules and processes for natural disasters.

Wheatley said adjustments to these policies are needed in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and in the ‘early recovery period’ to “help stabilise the economy and accelerate recovery”.

He said: “In many Small Island Developing States, government accounts for a significant share of economic activity through the buying and purchasing of goods and services from domestic contractors and suppliers. This dynamic becomes even more pronounced in the aftermath of a catastrophic event when other sectors and drivers of economic activity have been wiped out. International partners need to understand this reality and help to ensure that as much income as possible remains within the economy and is spread as far and wide as possible across the society.”

“Government contracts driving recovery should economically have a strong multiplier effect, as opposed to resulting in vast sums of money leaving the economy and depriving communities and families of much needed financial resources to sustain themselves during a period of reduced economic activity,” Wheatley further said.

The special envoy made the statements as one of the lead speakers at the annual Caribbean American Leadership Dialogue held at the Longworth House Congressional Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in the United States recently.

Other speakers at the event included the Deputy Director of the Office of Caribbean Affair at the United States (US) State Department, Michael Wautlet; Dr lga Henry who is Climate Change Lead at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US State Department; board member at Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Faculty, Isaac Anthony; Kate Brown of the Global Islands Partnership; and Crispin Gregoire of Crispin Gregoire & Associates.

Barbados Economic Affairs Minister Marsha Caddle also participated in the roundtable discussion, Wheatley said.

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1 Comment

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  1. E. Leonard says:

    The VI, along with its sister regional countries, is highly vulnerable to a number of hydrometerological and geological events, ie, hurricanes, storm surges, torrential rain, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis…….etc. It is not if but when the VI will be hit by a natural disaster, eg, hurricanes; thankfully, the VI was sparred being ravaged a catastrophic hurricane in 2019, as happened in Sep 2017. As such, the territory should have a robust response and recovery plan for when a disaster strikes.

    The VI government, like other SIDS, play a key role in the economy through direct employment and purchase of goods and services. In normal conditions, good and services are acquired different types of contract vehicles, ie, firm fix price (low bid), best value, sole source, job order contracting, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity…..etc. During a disaster, given the exigency, different acquisition methods are needed for procuring goods and services. The normal procurement methods may need to be suspended and emergency procurement methods employed.

    Thus, the territory should have emergency procurement/acquisition procedures in place to roll out when disaster strikes. For example, government should have a number of Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity(IDIQ) contracts in place, ie, road clearing, debris collection, food services, health services, water supply, emergency power (portable generators…..etc), ghut clearing, portable shelters, fuel supply…..etc.

    In addition to IDIQ contracts, other types of contracts can be used in a disaster, Time & Material, Cost Plus…..etc. If there is a silver lining in a disaster, it creates demand for goods and services. As such, local vendors should positioned themselves and be given the opportunity to partake in the supply.

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