Rationale for Set Asides Programme
Many years ago several government Ministries and agencies came together and worked on a fair share policy for Trinidad and Tobago. This sought to bring into being a Set Asides Programme that required the provision of Set Asides of Government expenditure for the Small Business Sector.
The policy recommended that a percentage of government expenditure be reserved for small businesses and there should be mechanisms in place to ensure that the programme succeeded.
2014 saw a procurement bill being tabled that does not reflect in any way the Fair Share Policy. As has been stated the policy required the provision of Set Asides from government expenditure. This is a direct mechanism to ensure that small businesses benefit from government contracts.
Set Asides are needed as it is difficult for Small Businesses to compete with Big Businesses
The rationale for the recommendation was the recognition that the normal tenders procedures/requirements were so demanding that normally small businesses would not qualify. In addition, it is very difficult for small businesses with their many issues to compete with big businesses. This fact is recognized worldwide. The recommendation sought to ensure that for contracts which MSME’s could perform cognizance was taken of the circumstances of small business entrepreneurs and transparent opportunity would be provided for them to benefit from them.
USA has Set Asides Programme
Set Asides are used by the US Federal Government to ensure that all small businesses have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in providing goods and services to the government. To foster an equitable federal procurement policy, government-wide small business goals, in terms of a percentage of annual expenditure are established for federal agencies. The Small Business Administration (SBA) negotiates the goals annually with each federal agency on an individual basis. The SBA has the responsibility to review each agency’s results.
Barbados has a Small Business Act
Right in the Caribbean Barbados has a Small Business Development Act. Are we going to settle for section 28 of the 2014 procurement Bill that makes it optional to limit anything for small businesses by suggesting it MAY be done.
2015 is the year when change can come.