New head hired for Procurement Office

Taraq Bashir is the new director of government's Central Procurement Office.

Government has hired Taraq Bashir as the new director of the Central Procurement Office.

Mr. Bashir, a British national, has more than 30 years of experience in both the public and private sector in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean.

The new head of procurement “is passionate about the opportunities that his new position brings to improve service and procure considerable savings for the Cayman Islands Government in its purchases of goods and services,” a government press release said, adding that Mr. Bashir delivered “hefty savings” for several of the entities he has worked for in the past.

Mr. Bashir comes to the Cayman Islands from his last appointment in Montserrat, where he was the head of procurement for the government and helped review, develop and implement key reforms of the Overseas Territory’s procurement regulations.

While there, he also tested and completed the implementation of an electronic procurement system within four months of taking over as head, to increase the efficiency, transparency, integrity, openness and accountability of the island’s procurement process, according to the press release.

Mr. Bashir has also served in top procurement positions and helped secure cost savings in the London boroughs of Redbridge and Bexley, with RBS Group in the U.K., and the Lavendon Group plc in the U.K. covering its Europe and Middle East operations. In addition, he has worked in Canada, Germany and Turkey.

At the London authority, he helped slash procurement costs and contract renegotiations by 46 million pounds sterling.

Mr. Bashir previously worked as a management consultant, developing strategies and implementing change programs to deliver quality of service improvements and cost savings in the manufacturing industry in the U.K., Canada and France.

In welcoming Mr. Bashir to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Financial Secretary and Chief Officer Kenneth Jefferson said, “I look forward to Mr. Bashir achieving cost savings for the Public Sector; whilst allowing all bidders a fair opportunity to supply the Public Sector with the goods and services it requires; and, in so doing, bring about increased public confidence that the procurement process is fair and will result in benefits for the Cayman Islands.”

Government procurement has been a controversial issue in Cayman over the years, with several auditor general reports highlighting shortcomings in the area.

After a 2011 audit revealed Cayman was “wasting millions of dollars” each year on the purchase of goods and services, the rules for public procurement were redrafted in 2016.

The Procurement Law (2016), which came into effect in May 2018, set up a new public bidding process for everything from purchasing supplies to the construction of public buildings.

However, another auditor general’s audit of consultant spending, released earlier this year, highlighted areas where procurement rules around government contracts still need to be improved.

It noted that government did not always consider value for money when hiring consultants and failed to prepare business cases for most of consulting contracts awarded.

The auditor general’s report also noted that the Central Procurement Office was not sufficiently staffed to support all procurement across government. It recommended expanding the office’s role and size and training staff within the ministries and departments to be “procurement specialists.”

Mr. Bashir said he is looking to recruit a local degree graduate with a passion for procurement to complete the government procurement team. The department would be able to develop and train this candidate to exacting industry standards, he said.