Public procurement authorities within the East African Community member states have been called upon to enforce the Public Procurement law.
The call was made yesterday at the opening of the-three-day 4th East African Public Procurement Forum organised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINICOFIN), in partnership with Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) in Kigali.
The forum is held under the theme “Improving the efficiency of Public Procurement in the East African Community for Economic Growth.”
In an interview with The New Times, Mbumba Mbungu, a Procurement Consultant from Kenya, said that the enforcement of procurement law is one of the key challenges still facing the public procurement process in the region.
“The Procurement law is very clear, descriptive and stipulates that the procurement process should not be done in a discriminative manner. But according to my experience and analysis, various public procurement authorities in EAC have not yet adhered to this law, he noted.
“I think this forum is an opportunity for all stakeholders to see how they harmonise their efforts to address the matter.”
He said there was need to ensure that the private sector clearly understands the public procurement process saying it would enable those in the sector to offer better services within the public procurement framework.
“My advice is that all the procurement authorities in every country should know that one of their mandates is to carry out procurement review through going around every entity and checking their contracts to ascertain whether they comply with the procurement law when giving out tenders” Mbumba added.
He requested public procurement authorities to promote the e-Procurement programme which he said would enhance service delivery and transparency.
Cornelia K. Sabiiti, the Executive Director of Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) in Uganda, observed that it was crucial to reduce the amount of money spent through the procurement process.
“Public procurement accounts for most of government expenditure. So it’s very important that we improve the efficiency of how it is done by respecting the time taken in delivering services to the people,” she said.
Sabiiti said that the procurement process is still modest and does not deliver quality services saying that the forum would enable stakeholders in the public procurement sector to come up with more measures on how best to improve efficiency.
“There is need to bring on board members of the private sector and civil society because improving efficiency in the public procurement systems needs collective efforts,” Sabiiti underlined.
Augustus Sebinega, the Director General of RPPA, said that public procurement systems within the EAC countries are budding, which he said is among the factors that still hamper the performance of public procurement processes in the region.
He said that public procurement in Rwanda is estimated at 11 percent of the GDP and 40 percent of public expenditure.
“The capacity of people in the public procurement systems are not yet at the level that we would want them to be, which leads to selecting incompetent suppliers of goods,” Seminega said.
He added that RPPA has put in place various measures aimed at building the capacity of procurement systems by amending the laws, as well as putting up new regulations and guidelines.
While officially opening the meeting, Enata Dusenge, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, noted that public procurement is an important source of income in the private sector and also a key tool in economic development in every country.
“Improving the efficiency of public procurement would increase the value of goods and services produced for a certain amount of money during a given financial year leading to economic growth of our countries.
She called upon participants to discuss and share their experiences saying that it would enable them come up with viable mechanisms to manage efficiency in the procurement systems and increase the value for money in public spending.