Editorial: Fix loopholes in e-procurement to enhance efficiency

Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) has urged contractors to embrace the e-procurement system while applying for public tenders. The call was made during a meeting on the role of public procurement on the country’s economic growth that brought together entrepreneurs and procurement officers from public institutions in Musanze District on Friday.

Previously, public tendering was marred by irregularities like bureaucracy, forgery and corruption. In fact, before the e-procurement system was introduced in July 2016, the Auditor General had blacklisted 180 contractors over forging bidding documents.

With e-procurement, a significant level of professionalism in public procurement is guaranteed. It also ensures proper time management, transparency, among other benefits.

However, despite the advantages of the $ 7 million e-procurement project, more needs to be done if the system is to become efficient and sustainable.

For instance, some contractors have been accused of not paying suppliers or delaying to pay them during or after the execution of public tenders, an anomaly that the contractors blame on some of the public institutions that at times delay to disburse payments.

There is also the issue of capacity on how to use the system. Stakeholders need more capacity building on how to effectively use the system. Therefore, regular discussions should be conducted to address any emerging issues that would create conflicts or misunderstandings between contractors and the institutions.

There is no doubt that the digitisation of procurement systems will reduce cases of corruption by minimising physical contact between bidders and procurement officers like it was in the past.

Also, there is need to ensure that all registered contractors are covered under the e-procurement system. According to RPPA data, there are between 5000 and 6000 contractors, but only 3500 are said to be registered in the system, which was launched in July. More capacity building will go a long way in ensuring that all the 6000 contractors are registered under the e-payment system, and this should be supplemented with periodic monitoring and evaluation of the system.