Second Reading Speech By Senior Minister of State for Finance, Mrs Josephine Teo On The Government Procurement (Amendment) Bill 201321 Jan 2014
Madam Speaker, I beg to move, “That the Government Procurement (Amendment) Bill be now read a second time”.
Amendments to the Government Procurement Act
2 In 1997 Singapore acceded to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA in short). Parliament passed the Government Procurement Bill later in the same year.
3 Signatory governments are required to abide by GPA principles of openness, non-discrimination and fairness for the areas of government procurement that they committed to. By signing on to the GPA, Singapore suppliers would be better able to participate and compete in government tenders called by signatories such as the US, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei.
4 The Government Procurement Act and its subsidiary legislations put into law the obligations of the Singapore Government as a signatory to the GPA. In addition, they also reflect our obligations in other Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with GPA signatories, namely the US, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
5 The GPA has been re-negotiated among the signatories. These negotiations have concluded and the revised GPA terms were endorsed by the GPA Committee under the auspices of the World Trade Organization in March 2012. Signatories, including Singapore, pledged to align their respective procurement rules with the revised GPA.
6 Under the revised GPA, Singapore suppliers will be granted greater access to government procurement opportunities in GPA signatories. For example, some signatories, like the US, the European Union and Switzerland, have committed more central government entities under the revised Agreement. There will also be greater alignment in the procurement rules of the GPA signatories.
7 In return for the improvements offered by other GPA signatories, Singapore committed one more service to be covered under the revised GPA. The additional service now covered by GPA rules is “executive search services”. What this means is that when Singapore government agencies procure executive search services 3 they must do in a manner that complies with the GPA obligations.
8 In terms of procurement rules, the revised GPA mainly spells out more clearly what is required of signatories and these adjustments will be reflected in the subsidiary legislations. For example, the revised GPA requires all evaluation criteria including the relative importance of the criteria to be stated upfront in the tender documents. This increases the transparency of the evaluation process and would benefit suppliers. As our existing procurement rules are already substantially in compliance with the revised GPA obligations, there is no significant change to our existing rules.
9 To give legal effect to the obligations under the revised GPA, updates to our current legislations are necessary. The changes proposed to the current Government Procurement Act in this Amendment Bill are technical changes. The amendments are to insert the reference to the revised GPA and subsequently update the definitions of the “relevant states” and “relevant suppliers” covered under the Act to reflect the signatories to the revised Agreement.
10 Madam Speaker, I beg to move.