Continued engagement on public procurement critical

Public procurement is one of the areas, when handled properly, could help accelerate the country’s growth.

Public procurement is one of the areas, when handled properly, could help accelerate the country’s growth.

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.

Most importantly, this might mean the next time the Auditor General visits budget institutions he will find fewer qualified (unclean) audit reports.

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