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BC Sessional Papers

PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Sixth Annual Report of the Purchasing Commission January 1st, 1948, to December… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly [1949]

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Sixth Annual Report of the
Purchasing Commission
January 1st, 1948, to December 31st, 1948
Primed by Don McDiabmid, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
1949.  Victoria, B.C., January 15th, 1949.
To His Honour C. A. Banks,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it please Your Honour :
Herewith I beg respectfully to submit the Annual Report of the Purchasing Commission of the Department of Finance for the period January 1st, 1948, to December
31st, 1948.
Minister of Finance.   .
The Honourable Herbert Anscomb,
Minister of Finance, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—We have the honour to submit the Sixth Annual Report of the Purchasing
Commission, covering the period January 1st, 1948, to December 31st, 1948.
Member.  Sixth Annual Report of the Purchasing Commission.
For the Period January 1st, 1948, to December 31st, 1948.
Perhaps in no other respect is the effect on Provincial economy more marked than
in the cost of the equipment and supplies necessary to the performance of the numerous
services maintained by the Government.
Many factors influence the cost of commodities, and the sharp advance in prices
may be attributed to various reasons, such as the shortage of raw materials due, in
some instances, to disruption of former sources of supply, the unprecedented expansion
in industry to meet world demands which have greatly increased as an aftermath of
the war, increased transportation rates, higher wages, labour disputes which halt production, and, last but not least, the vagaries of trade balances and foreign exchange.
The effort on the part of the populace to maintain a high standard of living, and the
tendency on the part of labour to work fewer hours and less arduously, further contribute to the dislocation of the law of supply and demand.
Although there has been considerable improvement in the availability of supplies,
prices have continued to rise. Reference to the statistical figures indicates a general
increase in the amount of purchases. This increase is partly due to expanding Government services, but the advance in prices would account for a considerable portion of it.
A few commodities are still subject to a measure of control, but it may be said that the
controlled period is practically over. The inevitable result of the removal of subsidies
was a corresponding increase in the price of the subsidized commodities; for instance,
butter advanced 30 cents per pound, flour $4.05 per barrel, and feed-grains and hay
rose as much as $16 per ton.
Prior to this year the policy of obtaining semi-annual tenders for institutional
supplies was followed, but present market conditions are such that it has seemed inadvisable to risk either the submission or acceptance of prices that would be binding for
a period of six months. Therefore, until such time as the market becomes more stabilized, monthly quotations are being obtained covering only current requirements. The
results appear to justify the additional clerical work involved, and suppliers have
co-operated fully.
In October of this year the Purchasing Commission assumed jurisdiction over the
stock carried at the Langford warehouse formerly operated by the Public Works
Department. This stock consists mainly of camp equipment, tools, and supplies which
are in general demand by the field services of various departments, and has been
expanded considerably during the past few years by favourable purchases made by the
Commission from War Assets Corporation. Although camp equipment covers a wide
range of articles, it consists of such items as tents, bedding, stoves, cooking-utensils,
cutlery, crockery, tools of various kinds, including saws, axes, shovels, picks, mattocks,
etc. By maintaining a reasonably complete stock of this equipment, much time and
expense is saved in establishing camps; and when they are closed the equipment is
returned to the warehouse for reconditioning and storing for future use. Most of the
equipment referred to is not readily obtainable in the quantities required on short
notice, and therefore it is desirable that sufficient stocks be accumulated in advance.
This also affords the opportunity of making bulk purchases on more favourable terms,
and also makes it possible to standardize on the types of equipment that have been
found to be most suitable.
In respect of fuel-supplies for Government buildings and institutions, a serious
coal shortage developed last winter as a result of the strike in the Vancouver Island
mines, and, to meet the emergency, it was found necessary to import a few car-loads
5 Q 6
from the United States at a considerably higher cost. However, the situation has
improved, and it seems reasonably safe to assume that adequate supplies will be available to meet this winter's requirements.
In the case of motor-cars, deliveries are still lagging, but the situation in respect
of trucks has eased somewhat during the latter part of this year. In all probability
the shortage of steel will continue to retard production for some time yet. This situation, plus import restrictions, also accounts for the difficulties experienced in acquiring
road machinery and equipment of all kinds. The advance in prices varies from 20 per
cent, to 35 per cent.
Spare parts and accessories for automobiles and trucks have been in better supply
recently, but indications are that they will again be added to the list of shortages.
In the case of tires, it is worthy of special note that the supply is now plentiful, and
prices are actually 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, below pre-war levels. This seems too
good to last.
During the calendar year 1948 the number of motor-vehicles purchased totalled
392, of which 222 were cars and 170 were trucks of various sizes. During the same
period 194 vehicles were disposed of, from which the sum of $128,127.93 was realized.
Miscellaneous items of surplus stock and equipment sold by auction or advertised
tender amounted to $12,624.86.
Cost data respecting the operation of cars in Government service is now maintained by the departments concerned.
Supervision has been maintained over the stocks carried in Police stores and at
the several Provincial institutions, and the inventories of supplies are periodically
Statistical records were maintained under the following headings, which, for information, are recited herewith:—
A. Competitive.—On contract, quotation (written or verbal), or prices awarded
on, and governed by, previous quotation.
B. Restrictive.—Specified commodities sold exclusively by a particular manu
facturer, wholesaler, jobber, or agent.
C. Controlled.—Includes set prices where no advantage accrues in calling for
competitive tenders on commodities sold at controlled prices.
D. Non-competitive.—Requisitions issued without stated prices and controlled
by checking or test-checking prices when invoices are submitted.
E. Retail.—Includes semi-retail, or where prices are greater than might be
secured from manufacturer or wholesaler (local purchases).
F. Emergency.— (1)  Retail.    (2)  Wholesale.
Comparative figures for the fiscal years 1945-46, 1946-47, and 1947-48 are set
forth hereunder:—
A. Competitive	
B. Restrictive	
C. Controlled !	
E.  Retail	
F. Emergency—
(1)  Retail	
(2). Wholesale	
Number of purchase orders issued	
These figures cover the fiscal year ended March 31st, 1948, and, although a substantial increase over the preceding fiscal period is indicated, they do not reveal the
extent to which the volume has increased during the calendar year 1948. This will be
reflected in our next report.
There has been an unusually heavy demand for office furniture this year to equip
the new building on Superior Street, two new Court-houses at Alberni and Penticton,
and a large number of additional offices opened throughout the Province in connection
with Health Insurance and other expanding services. By reason of the limited quantities available through the usual trade channels, as well as the excessive cost due to
the advance in prices, negotiations were entered into with British Columbia manufacturers with a view to having them undertake to supply as large a proportion of our
requirements as possible. This particular type of furniture had not been produced
locally in commercial quantities heretofore, and an opportunity was thus afforded to
encourage the establishment of a local industry, as well as providing the advantage of
dealing directly with manufacturers. Although minor production difficulties had to be
overcome in the early development stages, splendid results have accrued to the benefit
of all concerned, and now practically all of our desks, tables, and chairs are being made
in Vancouver, New Westminster, and Victoria.
The present system, whereby our inventory of office furniture and equipment is
kept manually on a card-index, has become too big and cumbersome for efficient
handling, and the more modern method of punched cards on International Business
Machines is being adopted. Until the work connected with this change has been completed, the revised inventory value cannot be accurately stated.
Owing to the expansion of Government services previously referred to, an increased
volume of work has fallen upon our typewriter maintenance mechanics, yet a very
satisfactory service has been maintained with only a minor addition to the staff.
A few improvements have been made to the equipment in our cabinetmaker's shop
in Vancouver to broaden the scope of the work which may be advantageously undertaken. This work consists mainly of repairing and refinishing furniture in the Courthouse and other Government offices in and adjacent to Vancouver; also, to the extent
that time and facilities will permit, incidental items of furniture required for special
purposes are constructed.
Printed by Don McDiakmid, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.


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