NTI seeks review of GN’s NNI policy

Is NNI the “economic tool” the GN first promised?

By JANE GEORGE

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. wants to review the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuti, or NNI, the policy that sets out how the Government of Nunavut should comply with Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in giving preferential treatment to Inuit- and Nunavut-owned businesses when awarding procurement contracts.

Cathy Towtongie, president of NTI, said Nov. 2 that now is the time to make sure the policy is being carried out properly.

Towtongie said in a interview that a discussion of the NNI policy will take place at NTI’s annual general meeting later this month in Cambridge Bay.

In 2004, the curent version of the NNI policy was created by the Government of Nunavut.

David Simailak, then the minister of economic development, told NTI that his department would become responsible for carrying out the NNI policy.

At the time, Simailak said “no longer will NNI be solely a contracting procedure. It will become an economic tool that will be used not only to fulfill our land claims obligations, it will go far beyond that to truly equip Inuit-owned businesses to reach their full potential.”

But now Towtongie isn’t convinced that the NNI process is benefitting small independent businesses that generate economic development in communities.

The NNI policy, worked out in negotiations between NTI and the GN, is the Nunavut government’s tool for carrying out its obligations under Article 24 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

The goal of the NNI policy is to “maximize the participation of Nunavut, Inuit, and community-based (local) businesses in Government of Nunavut contracting.”

Under a cabinet decision in 2003, the NNI provides a seven per cent bid-price adjustment to Inuit firms, a seven per cent break to “local” firms, and a seven per cent break to Nunavut firms.

This means a company owned by Inuit residents of Nunavut, based in the community where the work is to be done, can get a 21 per cent price advantage over a non-Nunavut firm when bidding for a GN contract.

The NNI is supposed provides a competitive advantage on government contracts to Inuit-owned companies that meet certain requirements.

But NTI wants to carry out a thorough analysis of all NNI decisions and appeals to see if that’s the case.

NTI executive director Terry Audla said the goal of the review will be to see if the money—and expertise—attached to these contracts actually stays in the communities or benefits companies in the South.

The NNI recently came under the spotlight when two companies decided to appeal the GN contracting decisions to the NNI appeals board: Sudliq Developments Inc., a Coral Harbour company owned by Towtongie’s brother Louie Bruce, is appealing a government decision to hand over its fuel delivery contract to another company, and Adlair Aviation Ltd., a Cambridge Bay company, lost its appeal on the medevac contract in the Kitikmeot region to a partnership between an Inuit-owned company and a subsidiary of large southern aviation company.

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