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AfDB and EBRD to Launch Assessment of Tunisia’s Public Procurement System


AllAfrica

April 23, 2013

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are jointly organizing the North Africa and Southern Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) Regional Public procurement Conference on Morocco on April 22-23 in Marrakesh, Morocco to launch a report on the assessment of the public procurement system of Tunisia.

The conference, which will provide Tunisia an action plan to improve its public procurement system will include discussions on public procurement initiatives, reforms and assessments in Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania and Morocco.

Key Speakers at the conference will include experts and representatives from the AfDB, EBRD, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the European Union Delegation to Ukraine.

The AfDB collaborated with the World Bank, the European Union and the Tunisian Government to complete the assessment of Tunisia’s public procurement system in 2012, as part of the Bank’s efforts to promote sound and efficient business practices in Africa.

Analysis: New law fails to ease oil concerns in Uganda


IRIN NEWS

KAMPALA/NAIROBI, 13 December 2012 (IRIN) – Uganda’s parliament recently passed a law to govern the exploration, development and production of the country’s estimated three billion barrels of oil, a resource whose extraction will directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

While the law streamlines the burgeoning industry, analysts have raised concerns over transparency and over who controls the sector.

“The new law helps set clear guidelines under which the oil sector is to be run and managed, and makes clear who is in charge of what roles,” said Tony Otoa, director of Great Lakes Public Affairs (GLPA), a Uganda-based think tank focusing on oil and governance. “However, there are some concerns about transparency and too much power within the oil industry in the hands of the president.”

The bill was passed on 7 December after weeks of wrangling over its controversial Clause 9, which gives the energy minister wide-ranging powers, including authority over the granting and revoking of oil licenses, negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements, and promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector. Many members of parliament (MPs) felt these powers should be held by an independent national oil authority.

“Essentially, the standoff, which has ended, was about the withdrawal of trust from a government that is battered by corruption scandals. Also the way the cabinet operates is that, in the past, the feeling has been that some key ministries, like finance, are effectively run by the presidency after being stuffed by yes-men or -women. The pushback against Clause 9 also comes as the Central Bank opened its vaults to a large withdrawal in 2010 [US$740 million to buy six fighter jets] only for approvals to be sought retrospectively,” said Angelo Izama, a Ugandan journalist and oil sector analyst.

“Loss of trust”

“This loss of trust is behind the resistance to greater control by the executive,” he added. “The executive has not been a bad shepherd of the process so far. Uganda’s negotiating position has been tougher with the oil companies, ironically, without the oversight of parliament. However, public scandals elsewhere have negatively affected the ability of the president to convince lawmakers – especially of his party – that he means well.”

A number of donors – including the UK and Ireland – recently suspended aid to Uganda following allegations of deep-rooted corruption in the Office of the Prime Minister. The prime minister, the former energy minister and the foreign affairs minister were all accused of taking kick-backs from oil companies in 2011, charges that remain unproven but that nevertheless damage the reputation of the government.

“The country lacks trust in the state… Institutions and officials have lost legitimacy, and for such an important bill to vest too much power into a political appointee is a recipe for disaster,” said Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at Uganda’s Makerere University Refugee Law Project.

“Granting and revoking licenses and negotiations are technical in nature. We need an independent commission or authority made up of people of good competence, technical ability and experience, and good morals to guard our oil,” said Frank Gashumba, a local businessman and social activist.

Proponents of Clause 9 say licensing powers are safer in the hands of the cabinet than under an oil authority. “The authority is open, easy to bribe and manipulate. Cabinet is bigger than the authority – members of the executive are answerable to Ugandans because they are elected leaders,” said Kenneth Omona, a ruling party MP.

Those opposed to it say they will challenge the law, which was passed with 149 votes in favour and 39 against; some 198 MPs did not turn up to vote.

“The fight is not complete; the passing of the bill is liable to be challenged in courts of law,” said Theodore Ssekikubo, ruling party MP and chair of the parliamentary forum on oil and gas. “If we fail to go to court, we shall subject the matter to a referendum for all Ugandans to pronounce themselves on this strategic resource. We want to ensure transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

Transparency

There are also concerns about the law’s confidentiality clause, which limits the amount of information accessible by the public.

“The law is lacking transparency – it imposes confidentiality on officials working within the sector, even after they leave office, so there is no opportunity for whistle-blowing or for the public to have access to information on, say, production-sharing agreements,” GLPA’s Otoa said.

He noted that Uganda still hasn’t joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international scheme that attempts to set a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, further compounding the sector’s lack of transparency. As a member of the EITI, Uganda and oil companies involved in the country would be required to publish all payments and revenues from the industry.

While Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), two of Uganda’s major oil partners, are listed on Wall Street and are therefore subject to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – which requires disclosure of payments relating to the acquisition of licenses for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals – the Irish firm Tullow Oil, another of Uganda’s main oil partners, is not under any similar obligations.

“I am worried we [legislators] and the public can’t access and scrutinize these agreements. You can imagine the recently negotiated and signed oil agreements have not been accessed by the public, not even by members of parliament,” Beatrice Anywar, former shadow energy minister, told IRIN.

The impact of the oil sector has so far been most acutely felt by communities around Lake Albert, thousands of whom have had to move – some willingly and some forcefully – to make room for an oil refinery, which is expected to take up 29sqkm and displace some 8,000 people.

Land issues

“The government is prosecuting the refinery resettlement by the book. However, managing public expectations and the process of multiple decision makers in Uganda’s complex land legal system [Uganda has multiple land systems, including customary, leasehold and freehold] has contributed some volatility to the process… What is adequate compensation? And who determines that? Is it the market or should this be done by the government?” said journalist Izama.

“As a partner to the oil companies, it’s questionable too if the government can make the best decisions for the affected people as it would look to keep project costs fairly low,” he continued. “It is still a dilemma which is jurisprudential as well as political.”

He noted that much of the oil is in game reserves and a sensitive basin with lakes, rivers and a rare biodiversity, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, which could also pose challenges for peaceful production; there has already been some tension between the two countries over their boundaries within Lake Albert.

“The process of consensus-building is still weak, and regardless of how it’s arrived at, displacements will create uncomfortable realities, including land and job pressure.”

According to Otoa, Uganda’s lack of a comprehensive land policy makes compensation issues more complex. “We need clear land policies to ensure people are properly compensated – there is a Resettlement Action Plan in place, but it has not been implemented, and a draft land policy has not been actualized, leaving these communities vulnerable,” he said.

He noted that the lack of education among the local population, both in the oil-rich areas and the rest of the country, had contributed to the continued problems in the sector.

“We have focused too much on educating MPs on the implications and importance of good oil governance. We need to move to people-centred approaches and encourage dialogue in the public sphere, which will lead to people demanding accountability from their MPs and the government,” he added.

Ultimately, Izama said, responsible actions by the government will be the difference between Uganda’s oil making a significant impact on the country’s economy or causing conflict and greater poverty.

“Pressure on public institutions prior to commercial oil production is an effective way of counteracting the resource curse. If this public engagement falters, if the transition [from President Museveni to his successor] is volatile, some of the scenarios of the so-called oil curse are possible,” he said. “Overall the tensions are high, but responsible actions by public and political institutions like the past debate show progress is possible.”

EU donors freeze aid to Uganda over corruption


Bloomberg News

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — More Western donors are freezing aid to Uganda after a scam in which up to $13 million in donor money was embezzled in the office of Uganda’s prime minister. The aid freeze is the kind of action long demanded by transparency campaigners who charge that the money oils a corrupt system.

Uganda has a reputation as a corrupt country, but the latest scandal — brought to light by the country’s auditor general in October — is remarkable for its details: More than $220,000 was spent on gas in four days, millions of dollars were diverted to buy luxury vehicles for top officials, and millions were deposited into individuals’ private accounts.

Because the money was for the rehabilitation of parts of northern Uganda devastated by decades of warlord Joseph Kony‘s brutal insurgency, the scandal has provoked a lasting rage around the country and inspired aid cuts that foreign donors had been reluctant to inflict on this East African country.

Roberto Ridolfi, the head of the European Union delegation to Uganda, said in a statement late Tuesday that the scandal and those before it amounted to “a breach of trust” on the part of Ugandan authorities. Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Britain and Denmark have already cut or cancelled all aid to Uganda over the scam, saying they have lost faith in the government’s capacity to spend money responsibly.

Western donors fund up to 25 percent of Uganda’s budget.

Ridolfi said the EU and its development partners in Uganda “will withhold pending budget support disbursements and any further commitments for an initial period of up to (six) months.”

The donors are giving Uganda until April to pay back all the lost money, investigate the scandal, and take action against all the suspects. But investigations of this nature, when they happen, rarely produce the intended results in Uganda, where corruption charges are often politicized and then dismissed. This year three ministers with close ties to President Yoweri Museveni who faced corruption charges were set free by a judge who said they were scapegoats. The three politicians swiftly returned to their jobs […]

Some campaigners who had long urged donors to act tougher against official waste and graft say the audacity of the latest scandal vindicates their calls for the dismantling of an often-comfortable relationship between the state and its donors. They want foreign aid to be channeled through non-state actors engaged in service delivery and for donors to work directly with contractors in cases where the authorities cannot be trusted with cash.

“For the first time the donors are coming out and putting clear benchmarks and I think it’s a good move,” said Cissy Kagaba of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda, a watchdog group. “But there are other alternatives they can use to ensure that the money reaches the intended beneficiaries.” Read the full article here.

Ethiopia: Is ECX at it again? ECX’s upcoming procurement bid


Nazret.com November 29, 2012


By Wondwossen Mezlekia, 

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is currently conducting a high-ticket international procurement – the first of its kind since a multi-million dollar bid was busted in 2010 due to alleged fraud and corruption during the bidding process.

The bid for the supply, installation, and maintenance of a futures trading software that ECX floated back in 2010 was marred by dishonest maneuvering, seemingly to favor the Sri Lanka based company, Millennium IT, and World Bank withdrew ECX’s award proposal and cancelled the loan. The loan was part of what the government had borrowed from International Development Association (IDA) for the purposes of financing the Rural Capacity Building project. [1] Strangely, the said futures trading software was not needed to begin with and would have been running idle today had ECX purchased it in 2010, because the government is, as it has always been, decidedly against price speculations and hence would not allow Forwards and Futures trade operations that the software was supposed to support.

ECX is once again preparing to spend some of the money that the government has borrowed from the Investment Climate Facilities for Africa Trust (ICF) and other donors on an online trading platform at an estimated total cost of more than $10 million (exact amount and details are withheld). Arguably, much like the futures trading software, the merit of this investment is also questionable, especially in light of ECX’s and the government’s current priorities, the details of which is for another article. The purpose of this article is to equip concerned citizens with the information and resources they need to be on their guard against corruption, and to put on notice anyone who may be under temptation or illusion to fraudulently benefit from the upcoming bid. Although there is no evidence so far, it is better to prevent corruption than to prosecute it.

According to ECX’s budget proposal that was reviewed for this article, almost 76% of the budget for the online trading project will be covered by funds from the World Bank’s Rural Capacity Building Project. ICF has agreed to cover the financing gap of about 24% of the total estimated budget through a grant. The procurement is being conducted under the auspices of the outgoing officers, Dr. Eleni Gebre-Medhin, Solomon Edossa, and Ahadu Woubshet who only have an advisory role under a one-year contract, even though the new CEO, Anteneh Assefa and other officers have already assumed their positions.

The Invitation for Bid (IFD) for the procurement of a core system for online trading, including its risk management, surveillance, and clearing components (Procurement Reference Number ECX-ICF/G/002/2012) was advertised on November 1, 2012 on national papers and online, including on dgMarket. [2] Accordingly, the bid will be opened in two phases: the technical bid will be opened on November 30, 2012 at 10:30 am local time at ECX Media Room, and the opening date for the financial bid will be announced thereafter.[3] The bidding will be conducted in accordance with the open International Tendering Procedures contained in the public procurement guidelines of the Government of Ethiopia, the ICF Guidelines[4], and the International Competitive Bidding (ICB) procedures.

The past record of the government in detecting or prosecuting suspected fraud and corruption is dismal. On the other hand, donor’s guidelines have proved to be reliable sources of defense in past disputes involving international procurement bids. Among these, ICF’s guidelines appear to be by far clearer and strictly dictating how the borrower and bidders alike should behave during the bidding process. For example, ICF not only offers to provide assistance of audit services and monitoring (Article 1.6), but also explicitly states the steps that it takes to fight fraud and corruption (Article 1.7).

Review, Assistance, and Monitoring

1.6 ICF and auditors appointed by ICF shall review the Grant Recipient’s selection process for the selection of suppliers proposed by the Grant Recipient in the Procurement Plan to ensure compliance with the Grant Agreement and these Guidelines. The Grant Recipient shall retain all documentation with respect to each contract during project implementation and up to two [y]ears after the closing date of the Grant Agreement. This documentation would include, but not be limited to, the signed original of the contract, the analysis of the respective proposals, and recommendations for award the record of justification, the capabilities and experience of the suppliers, for examination by ICF, auditors appointed by ICF or by its suppliers.

Fraud and Corruption

1.7 It is ICF’s policy to require that Grant Recipients, as well as suppliers and their subcontractors under ICF-financed contracts, observe the highest standard of ethics during the selection and execution of such contracts. In pursuance of this policy, ICF will reject a proposal for award, cancel the portion of the Grant allocated to a contract; sanction a supplier if it at any time determines that the tender process was marred by corrupt, fraudulent, collusive, coercive, or obstructive practices. In addition, ICF will have the right to require that, in contracts financed by an ICF grant. a provision is included requiring suppliers to permit ICF to inspect their accounts and records and other documents relating to the submission of proposals and contract performance and to have them audited

Articles 2.1, 2.15, and 2.21 of ICF’s guidelines also require borrowers to conduct bidding by following a two-tiered approach and based on Quality and Cost Based Selection (QCBS), which uses a competitive process that takes into account the quality and the cost of the services in the selection of the winner. The guidelines prohibit evaluators of technical proposals from having access to the financial proposals until the technical evaluation is concluded.

The Selection Process

2.1 QCBS uses a competitive process among short-listed firms that takes into account the quality and the cost of the goods and supplies in the selection of the successful supplier. Cost as a factor of selection shall be used judiciously. The relative weight to be given to the quality and cost shall he determined for each case depending on the nature of the assignment.

Evaluation of Proposals: Consideration of Quality and Cost

2.15 The evaluation of the proposals shall be carried out in two stages: first the quality, and then the cost. Evaluators of technical proposals shall not have access to the financial proposals until the technical evaluation is concluded. Financial proposals shall be opened only thereafter. The evaluation shall be carried out in full conformity with the provisions of the RFP.

Articles 2.11 and 2.12 if IFC’s guidelines even go as far as to dictating the minimum time that grant recipients need to allow between the different stages of the procurement process. For example, the minimum time-limit for receipt of proposals should not be less than 40 days from the date of the advertisement, except in emergency situations.

While these and other Articles of ICF’s guidelines appear to provide reasonable controls around each segment of the procurement processes, any control is only as strong as the people applying them. It is thus imperative that concerned citizens and bidders get engaged and attentively monitor all international bidding processes conducted at ECX and other institutions in order to prevent misappropriations of foreign aid in Ethiopia.

Report suspected fraud and corruption to Investment Climate Facility for Africa at info@icfafrica.org or projects@icfafrica.org; the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency at investigations_hotline@worldbank.org; or Transparency International at transparency@transparency-usa.org.

[1] http://poorfarmer.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-government-serious-about-fighting_19.html
[2] http://www.dgmarket.com/tenders/np-notice.do~8547811 (dgMarket is an international portal for tenders and procurement opportunities from governments and international organizations)
[3] The time elapsed between the date of advertisement and the bid opening date appears to be shorter than the minimum time limit set under Articles 2.11 and 2.12 of ICF’s Procurement Guidelines
[4] http://www.icfafrica.org/documents/ICF-Procurement-Guidelines-for-Goods–Suppliers.pdf

Read more about ECX at http://poorfarmer.blogspot.com/p/ecx-watch.html
Contact the writer at poorfarmer@gmail.com

Nigeria: ‘Oil-gas sector mismanagement costs billions’


BBC News Africa

October 25, 2012

A leaked report into Nigeria‘s oil and gas industry has revealed the extent of mismanagement and corruption that is costing billions of dollars each year.

The report, seen by the BBC, was commissioned by the oil minister in the wake of this year’s fuel protests to probe the financial side of the sector.

It says $29bn (£18bn) was lost in the last decade in an apparent price-fixing scam involving the sale of natural gas.

It also calculated the treasury loses $6bn a year because of oil theft.

Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest oil producers but most of its people remain mired in poverty.

The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force report is one of several commissioned by the government – and follows an outcry after a parliamentary investigation uncovered a massive multi-billion fuel subsidy scam.

That had been set up after angry nationwide protests in January when the government tried to remove a fuel subsidy.

Earlier this week, a campaign was launched to clean up Nigeria’s oil sector.

It was led by Patrick Dele Cole, a politician from the oil-rich Niger Delta region, who said that 90% of the stolen oil was refined in eastern Europe and Singapore.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says this leaked report exposes the extent of the rot in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry – all the way from the awarding of contracts to the sale of refined products.

It is staggering just how much money the people of Nigeria appear to be missing out on, he says.

Nigeria’s Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke declined to comment on the specifics of the probe but said a report compiled from several committees set up earlier in the year to investigate the oil and gas sector was in its final stages and would be presented to the president soon.

‘Total overhaul’

The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, headed by former anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu, revealed in its report that losses of revenue to the treasury over apparent gas price-fixing involved dealings between Total, Eni and Shell and government officials.

The report does not suggest the companies broke the law but called for measures to be put in place to ensure all transactions are more transparent.

It said that oil and gas companies owe the treasury more than $3bn in royalties.

For the period 2005 to 2011, it said $566m was owed in signature bonuses – the fees a company is supposed to pay up front for the right to exploit an oil block.

The report looked at the issue of discretionary licences which companies do not have to bid for.

Between 2008 and 2011 it found the Nigerian government had handed out seven discretionary licences, from which $183m in signature bonuses had not been paid.

A Shell spokesman said the company would not comment as it had not yet seen the report.

Our correspondent says it is well known that oil theft is a major problem in Nigeria, but the report says it may be reaching emergency levels as 250,000 barrels of crude oil could be being stolen every day – 10% of annual production.

The leaked report said that small-scale “pilfering” had been “endemic since at least the late 1990s”, but it also said it had heard allegations about thefts from crude export terminals, tank farms, refinery storage tanks, jetties and ports.

“Submissions to the Task Force alleged that officials and private actors disguise theft through manipulation of meters and shipping documents,” the report said.

“Yet there is also evidence that members of the security forces condone and, in some cases, profit from theft. The void in effective security likewise appears to increasingly hand over control of coastal and inland waterways to undesirable elements.”

The investigation showed that 40% of refined products – either refined in Nigeria or imported – currently being channelled through state-owned pipelines are lost to theft and sabotage.

Mr Ribadu’s investigation calls for a total overhaul of the industry with an oil sector transparency law requiring all companies to report all payments and publish all contracts and licences.

The Task Force also wants a special financial crimes unit to be established specifically for the oil and gas sector.

Achieving better results from public sector institutions


The World Bank

By Linda Van Gelder

Feb. 6, 2012

After a year of intensive consultation among development partners and with technical experts within the World Bank, I am pleased to announce that the World Bank Approach to Public Sector Management (2011-2020) has been agreed by the Public Sector Governance Board (the internal body that maintains professional standards on PSM and governance work within the Bank).

The Approach focuses on Public Sector Management (PSM) as a vehicle to overcome development challenges from budgeting to service delivery, reflecting both research findings and practitioner experiences. It is far-reaching–in its focus on the range of development outcomes that hinge on Public Sector Management–and pragmatic–in its emphasis on fitting reforms to country contexts. It also orients the Bank towards understanding PSM as a problem-solving endeavor, not a goal in its own right. The Approach charts a course for PSM work that combines the experience of public management experts with sound empirics and detailed diagnostics of the immediate context–including political economy realities–to find the most promising and sustainable method for easing binding constraints to improved public sector performance. It sets a learning agenda to systematically import lessons from research, while simultaneously laying a stronger empirical foundation for the discipline in the future. The Approach offers some clear directions for the Bank’s operational work, its approach to research, and its staffing and structures. Importantly, it commits the Bank to reviewing progress annually…Read more

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