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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

African states debate whether procurement rules aid or hinder growth

Rwanda: Continued Engagement On Public Procurement Critical
According to officials in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, when procurement is carried out in a proper and transparent manner, it enhances efficiency and service delivery, thus contributing greatly to economic growth.

In Rwanda, public procurement has come of age. Today, it is responsible for up to 16 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In the yesteryears there was no such a thing as competitive bidding for government contracts. Bureaucrats only handpicked service providers, often times causing heavy losses to the treasury, especially through shoddy work or uncompleted projects. Today, we can confidently say that we have since managed to reverse the trend. Public officials now know that you cannot spend taxpayers' money without due process.

Nonetheless, some service providers and experts have raised concerns over what they call long-winded procedures and vagueness of the current law on public procurement. They argue that legislation doesn't provide specific guidelines for the day-to-day practices in the sector, thus difficult to implement in some cases.
Under no circumstances should Rwanda's commitment to strict adherence to proper tendering procedures be compromised. We have all seen the fruits of this policy, the most recent being Rwanda's emergence as the least corrupt African country, and among the 'cleanest' in the world, ranking 13th globally, according to Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer, released last week.
Nonetheless, the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority and other relevant organs, should keenly examine complaints with regard to the existing law, and subsequently initiate the necessary adjustments to help improve service delivery, eliminate red-tape and plug any other potentially costly loopholes.
But, over in Zambia ...

Tedious public procurement processes delaying the pace of national development-Minister
Home Affairs Deputy Minister Nickson Chilangwa says long and tedious public procurement processes are delaying the pace of national development. Mr. Chilangwa said the PF government is failing to execute some of its urgent plans because Zambia’s public procurement processes take long to complete.

He said some of the requirements in public procurement are unnecessary and create an opportunity for corruption. “We have to reform our procurement laws, there is no way we could develop this country if it will take us six months to procure anything for the good of the nation,” Mr Chilangwa said.

He cited the procurement planned procurement of modern crowd control equipment for the Zambia Police Service as one which is being frustrated by the long procurement processes. “Everybody knows that we need to get modern equipment for our officers. There are now more riots breaking out and our officers need better protection and everybody knows the urgency of the matter but if the Permanent Secretary or the IG wakes up one day and say buys the equipment, everybody will start saying abuse of office. This is nonsense and we have to change this.”

He warned that Zambia will continue lagging behind unless serious public procurement reforms are under taken.
Beware of Ministers bringing "reforms".  Sometimes, often times, that word "reform" does not mean what we think it means.

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