Dominican Republic: CLDP Launches Program to Support Small Businesses
On March 30-31, CLDP conducted a workshop for government officials and private sector representatives on how to increase access to government contracts by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). While the Dominican Republic has implemented a 20% budgetary set-aside for MSMEs, there is little regulatory guidance on how contracts should be awarded to MSMEs, which has resulted in many agencies failing to meet this set-aside goal, and a small group of companies receiving the majority of set-aside contracts. The workshop focused on three main areas to address this problem: 1) increasing the use of market research and communication with private sector to identify MSMEs that could perform the government requirements 2) creating small business programs similar to those implemented by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop MSMEs and assist them with navigating the procurement process, and 3) incorporating procurement thresholds to require contracting offices to give exclusive tenders to MSMEs. The workshop was led by Aaron Parra, a procurement center representative from the SBA and Omar Saeb, a senior business management specialist at the General Services Administration (GSA) with an extensive federal government procurement background. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were asked to develop custom MSME programs tailored for the Dominican Republic market and a market research template that could be used by contracting offices throughout the Dominican government to better understand the capacities of private sector companies. As a result of the program, the Dominican Republic’s procurement policy office, the Directorate General for Public Contracting, requested a list of recommendations from CLDP that it would incorporate in its new regulations to support small businesses.