Published On: Wed, Jun 6th, 2018

Follow procurement procedures, Minister Ferrier urges suppliers

Mike Ferrier - 20180530 HH

PHILIPSBURG – Suppliers of goods and services to government often encounter trouble getting paid because proper procurement procedures have not been followed, Finance Minister Mike Ferrier said at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing. While Ferrier urged suppliers to make sure that they worked according to established procedures, he also acknowledged that the problem is rooted within the government organization. Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo later said that civil servants who do not follow procurement procedures could be held personally liable.

Ferrier said that he runs on a weekly basis into people who tell him that the government owes them money but that for some reason they are not getting paid. “Almost every time when we dig in we find that goods or services have been delivered to government while proper procurement procedures were not followed,” the minister said.

A civil servant could pick up the phone and call somebody he knows, saying I need this or that for my office, Ferrier said. “The supplier, wanting to help – which we appreciate – delivers the goods or services. But when he presents his invoice, the checks and balances of the government system kick in. The finance department will say: I need a purchase order, a paper trail. And when that cannot be found, the process stops because not everything is in place.”

Civil servants should not call on people they know to deliver goods or services without following proper procedure,” the minister noted. “The result of such actions is that the supplier is out of his goods and that the government does not pay. We have found invoices that are three years old in the administration. So we do not owe our creditors X, we owe them X-plus because we keep finding these unpaid invoices all over the place.”

In an attempt to put a stop to this situation, Minister Ferrier made a public appeal to all suppliers on the island. “If you are going to do business with the government do it in according with the procedures. But it starts with our own organization. Our employees must make sure they follow the correct procedures and make sure that they have the authority to make a purchase.

“I am asking suppliers: do not supply government with any service or any item without having proper papers in your hand that will guarantee that you will get paid on time.”