By EDGAR BRANDT, 2 MAY 2013
Windhoek — Despite a significant increase in public expenditure, public procurement has not brought about the desired outcomes, such as increased employment, improvement in the distribution of economic opportunities, enterprise development and economic growth and development, the Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, told a Tender Board meeting held recently in Windhoek.
According to the finance minister the desired outcomes have not been reached for the most part because of leakages out of the economy. “Many tenders are awarded to foreign companies even where local companies have the capacity to perform these tenders. Goods and services procured under these contracts are sourced from outside, and too many expatriates perform work on the projects under these contracts even where locals have the skills to do so. So resources leak out of the Namibian economy as a result of this and opportunities for learning and enterprise development are forfeited,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
She added that setting tenders aside for local companies and special target groups such as women and youth for economic empowerment could address these challenges.
Additional tools recommended by Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to address these issues include a policy that some tenders should require mandatory sole contracting of Namibian companies and SME‘s, that there should be requirements for local participation in all companies to be awarded tenders and that there should be a mandatory requirement for sourcing of supplies and labour services from within Namibia.
With specific regard to procurement, the finance minister noted there is a significant increase in expectations from the public for the system to help the country overcome the challenges of unemployment and inequities and to support sustainable economic growth. With public expenditure having increased significantly in the recent past, the government’s role in the economy has grown much bigger. “We should also put in place monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure that compliance with bidding commitments are enforced and that the impact of the procurement programmes is evaluated. Companies that fail to honour their bidding commitments should be held to account,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, adding that the current allegations of corruption and court challenges against the decisions of the board do not augur well for the public image of the board.
Also, she encouraged the Tender Board to look at ways to delegate the adjudication of some tenders to state-owned enterprises, local authorities and regional authorities.
She also revealed that a dedicated procurement reform project office has been set up and recruitment of staff is in progress. “The office will help drive the reform process including assisting with the drafting of the regulations for the new (tender) law once passed, and operational guidelines, as well as the setting up of the procurement advisory office and the new secretariat. I encourage the board to ponder on all the challenges and ways and means of overcoming them,” concluded Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.