Ethiopian Legal Brief

By Abrham Yohannes

February 16th, 2012

In developing countries like Ethiopia, the provision of services to the citizen is one of the central functions of government. To fully realize it’s in providing services which meet the standard of the best quality, but at the same time with the minimum cost, the government in Ethiopia, uses the best mechanisms available, which may generally be categorized in to two. First, in areas where the private sector is considered to be at an infant stage, the government directly involves itself in the management and operation of the provision of services. The provision of electricity, telecommunication and water for instance, is under the exclusive control of government. Second, in areas which do not require direct involvement of the government, the provision of public services will be realized by involving the private sector for carrying out works and providing goods and services. Even in the second case, the government is not totally out of the picture. Public enterprises and other government business organizations equally participate in this process. Similarly, the direct provision of services by the government, to some extent allows the participation of the private sector. To a certain degree, the private sector plays a role in carrying out public works and providing goods and services in areas under the exclusive control of the government.

Irrespective of the role played and the level of participation of the government or the private sector, the provision of the best quality of services with a minimum cost, requires an efficient and effective system of public procurement. “Public procurement is a central instrument to ensure an efficient management of public resources. Promoting good governance in public acquisition system aims at providing best value to its citizens through processes that are transparent and results-oriented.”

Irrespective of variations in the existing political, economic and legal environment peculiar to a specific country, an efficient and effective system of public procurement is ultimately built upon four basic pillars: procurement laws and regulations, procurement workforce, procurement process and methods, and procurement organizational structure. Ideally, procurement laws and regulations should be clear, consistent, comprehensive, and flexible. (Khi V. Thai, procurement: concepts and practices, in International handbook of public procurement ed. Khi V. Thai p6-9).

Generally speaking, the regulatory framework of public procurement as tool in the formulation and implementation of an effective and efficient system of public procurement should be guide by some internationally accepted basic principles. These principles are: transparency, accountability, objectivity, fairness and non-discrimination.

The principle of transparency helps to attract a greater number of participation, thereby encouraging competitiveness. It also makes the whole procurement process open and fair, thus avoiding the possibility of favoritism and discrimination. Transparency also makes it easy for procuring entities and officials to be accountable. Most importantly, it is an effective tool to curb corruption.

The Ethiopian procurement law is still at an infant stage. In recent years, the Federal government has taken measures to revise the existing law, so as to make it responsive to the growth and expansion of the quantity and quality of provision of public services. Each year, a significant portion of public money is allocated as a result of  award of contracts for the construction of public works, supply of goods and provision of services…Read more.