Aiding increased development

Much has been achieved in the past year in terms of the implementation of the Public Procurement Act and all needed bodies are operational.

11 June 2018 | Business

The Public Procurement Act (PPA) is a catalytic instrument for local economic development which is embedded in the national policy plans, said the deputy minister of finance, Natange Ithete.

The deputy minister told CEOs attending the third annual general meeting of the public enterprises' CEOs forum in Swakopmund that the new Act gave birth to the central procurement board (CPB) of Namibia, creating opportunities for Namibia's industrial and trade policy development to drive intervention on domestic productive capacity and industrialisation. It has been in operation since 31 May last year.

Ithete said the decision to entrust a centralised body with the responsibility to handle all high-value procurement in the public sector went a long way towards providing for greater transparency, fairness and accountability in the system.

He pointed out that in terms of this legislation, structures namely the procurement policy unit (PPU), central procurement board (CPB) and the review panel (RP), have been set up. On public entity level, structures, namely the procurement committee (PC), procurement management unit (PMU), and the ad-hoc bid evaluation committee (BEC), have also been created. The CPB replaced the tender board and conducts procurement processes for major contracts as determined by the thresholds prescribed in the public procurement regulations.

The CPB dealt mostly with transitional matters emanating from the transitional provisions during the past year. Ithete said bidding processes that were not finalised before the commencement of the Public Procurement Act 2015 need to be resolved as a matter of urgency as they might result in extensions and price increases. He added that a review panel, which acts as an ad-hoc panel responsible for the adjudication of review applications lodged by aggrieved bidders, was established to reduce the number of court challenges in respect of grievances from bidder.

“To avoid unnecessary and undesirable delays in any procurement process and experienced in the past, the PPA made it mandatory that all review matters are heard by the review panel before approaching the High Court of Namibia.”

The RP is also responsible for blacklisting and the suspension of bidders found guilty of any misconduct interims of the Act.

“The RP adjudicated 12 cases of review during the 2017/18 financial year. Weekly adjudication meetings were conducted. The CPB has undertaken contract management and monitoring visits to critical projects. The PPU registered over 127 internal procurement structures at public entities level.” Ithete said the implementation of the PPA did not come without its hurdles.

He listed a lack of both human and capital resources as challenges experienced.

“The field of procurement requires specialised skills in order to fully be operational. Finding the personnel with the required skills has been a challenging task not only in Namibia but across various developing nations. There is also need for constant training to be carried out by the Procurement Policy Unit.”

He further said that there has been resistance toward the Procurement Act amongst the public and officials due to lack of understanding hence, all stakeholders have to work in collaboration towards understanding and implementing the Act.

Successes recorded thus far include training conducted for over 2 400 public officials throughout all 14 regions by the PPU. The second phase of training commenced in 4 June and will last to November 2018.

“The successes recorded overshadow the challenges. The Act has been built on international best practices and experiences of both developed and developing countries. Government is striving to ensure that industries and businesses have sufficient prospects through participation in the Public Procurement Act and thereafter, can significantly contribute towards economic growth and poverty alleviation,” concluded Ithete.



OTIS FINCK

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