Public procurement authorities from member countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), have been urged to put into action new mechanisms and strategies aimed at enforcing rules and regulations that govern the public procurement sector.
The call was made by Colas Ziki, Project Manager of Enhancing Procurement Reforms and Capacity Project (EPRCP) at COMESA during an extra-ordinary meeting of the Technical Committee of Procurement Experts (TCPE) held in Kigali this week.
“Many COMESA countries have procurement laws, regulations and procedure, but sometimes these are not followed; and when they are not adhered to, then you have got the wrong suppliers winning tenders,” Ziki said in an interview with The New Times.
He noted that the lack of enforcement of public procurement laws and procedures was one of the factors that lead to corruption within the public procurement sector in the region.
“We want to see countries enforce their own rules, continue to place mechanisms which will ensure that every provision of the law and regulations and any procedures which have been developed are fully implemented,” Ziki underscored.
He noted that one of the achievements registered so far was that, out of the 19 member states within COMESA, 15 of them had devised modern procurement laws and systems which he said would enable the regional bloc to achieve the required harmonisation to fast track the regional procurement market.
He noted that COMESA Secretariat had prepared a draft assessment tool to ascertain the performance of public procurement authorities among COMESA member states.
Ziki added that the Secretariat would begin visiting member states to assess the compliance of public procurement systems to regional procurement regulations issued in June 2009.
Participants also discussed how to formulate regional thresholds. Ziki noted that presently, countries have their own national thresholds within their tendering systems but emphasised that if a tender is beyond US$1 million, it should be treated as a regional and international tender.
The meeting also discussed various strategies to improve the capacities of the public procurement authorities and other stakeholders in the COMESA region.
The Director General of Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), Augustus Seminega, said the meeting was crucial as it enabled participants to expose the various weaknesses within the sector in the region, citing the high turnover of staff.
“Staff members within the public procurement sector in Rwanda are continually searching for greener pastures leading to a high turnover that results in lack of capacity in this sector because people have been trained but they leave,” Seminega lamented.
He, however, noted that RPPA will continue to train its employees and other players in the public procurement sector to enhance their skills and knowledge to promote transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.