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Rwanda: Parliament Defers Procurement Bill


The New Times (Kigali) via AllAfrica
January 20, 2015

The parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and Patrimony, yesterday, sent back to the drawing board a new draft law that seeks to professionalise the procurement sector.

Legislators said the Procurement Bill had “a few issues” of unclearly stipulated legal assertions that required amendments.

Further examination of the Bill could not continue until the issues were sorted, said Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka, the chairperson of the committee.

“We need efficiency and value for money in the procurement sector. To attain that, we need clearly stipulated laws that will call off all the issues that have existed, for well functioning and sustainable procurement in the country,” said Rwaka.

Her concern was echoed by MPs Jeanne d’Arc Nyinawase and Fidèle Rwigamba, who said they could not start examining the Bill when there are some issues that needed to be clarified.

“The Bill still provides for two different entities; one segment that seeks to govern the procurement profession, and another that establishes Rwanda Association of Procurement Professionals. We have to harmonise the two and come up with one legal framework,” said Nyinawase.

This was the second time legislators are sending back the Procurement Bill for further streamlining.

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The Bill was drafted to streamline activities of the procurement sector following repeated anomalies and incidents of corruption-related undertakings, especially as captured by various financial year reports by the Office of the Auditor-General.

However, Augustus Seminega, the director-general of Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), said the government wished to draft one law to avoid risks identified in drafting two separate laws; like diverting from a standard format of other laws on professional associations, as well as putting interconnected provisions in two separate documents.

It was agreed by all stakeholders, Seminaga said, that the Bill would entirely focus on the mechanisms governing procurement profession, with other provisions included in one Bill.

“We have agreed that the title reflects properly the content of the law. It will focus on procurement profession,” said Kampeta Sayinzoga, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Scrutiny of the draft law is expected to commence in February after legal advisors from relevant institutions make the required changes.

Once enacted, the law is expected to help close the loopholes that have been prevalent in the sector, especially in public procurement, where, according to the Auditor-General, about 30 per cent of tenders awarded by public entities do not comply with procurement guidelines.

The report that covered the period between August 2012 and June 2013, said that more than Rwf23 billion was lost in poor contract management procedures, while nine contracts, worth Rwf908 million, were abandoned by contractors.

Procurement loopholes were noticed in project design and study, bidding documents as well as enforcement of contracts, among others.

In a recent interview with The New Times, Seminega blamed procurement errors on low skill levels, lack of experience and laxity among procurement officers.

“Public procurement has improved. We are coming from a time when all public procurement was done by one central entity. Now, the government has built capacities, institutions can manage to do own procurement. It is a process to achieve efficiency in the sector, that is where we are headed,” said Kampeta.

Will Bill close gaps in procurement?

Rwanda: Latest – Minecofin PS Appears in Parliament Over Draft Procurement Law


The New Times (Kigali)  via AllAfrica
January 19, 2015

 

Professional procurement officers in the public and private sector will add value to Rwanda’s procurement sector, Kampeta Sayinzoga, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, told The New Times.

She was appearing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and Patrimony to defend a draft law that seeks to professionalize procurement this morning.

“The added value of this [new] law is that, it actually brings standards and professionalism in the procurement sector for both public and private circles,” said Kampeta.

Once enacted, the law is expected to close the loopholes that have been prevalent in public procurement sector where, according to the Auditor-General, about thirty percent of tenders awarded by public entities do not comply with procurement guidelines.

The new law will strengthen the existing legislative framework that governs public procurement by streamlining all the institutional and legal frameworks governing procurement management.

According to the Auditor General’s report covering the period between August 2012 and June 2013, more than Rwf23 billion was lost in poor contract management procedures, while nine contracts, worth Rwf908 million, were abandoned by contractors.

In a recent interview with The New Times, Augustus Seminega, the Director General of Rwanda Public Procurement Authority, blamed procurement errors on low skill levels, lack of experience and laxity among procurement officers.

Article 2 of the new draft law say that the profession of procurement shall be entrusted with persons who have knowledge, governed by ethical rules and international best practices and those who have chosen to practice it under supervision of a professional body in charge of establishing a code of professional practice.

Namibia: Procurement Bill Sparks Heated Debate


AllAfrica.com

By Tonateni Shidhudhu

October 3rd, 2013

Windhoek — The Public Procurement Bill that is currently being debated in the National Assembly is likely to be rejected, following strong criticism by several MPs on both sides of the house.

Debate resumed on Tuesday on the proposed law. Lawmakers are unhappy with the way the Bill was drafted, arguing that the role of government and that of new institutions to be created under the proposed law is not clear, and that the Bill has the potential to disadvantage businesses that are run by black Namibians. The debate was delayed last week, when lawmakers requested a workshop on the Bill to get a clear understanding of what the proposed legislation entails.

Swapo Party MP Kazenambo Kazenambo criticized the Bill calling on the Finance Minister

Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to refer it back to the drafters. “I don’t see how the Ministry of Finance as an entity and other ministries are involved in the procurement system. I don’t understand the role of the Procurement Policy Office, there are so many offices and it is not clear who is supervising who, [since] the functions and powers of these offices are overlapping,” he said.

Kazenambo wants the finance minister to clarify the role of the institutions that are provided for in the Bill and how they differ from one another and also questioned the status of the Central Procurement Board and whether it is going to function as a parastatal or under which category of governance it would be placed.

If the Bill is passed, it will create a Central Procurement Board (CPB) to replace the current Tender Board that has had its fair share of controversy over the years. Kazenambo also queried why CPB members are given unlimited powers, especially that of extracting information about anyone bidding for a public tender, including their financial records. “I am seeing scandals coming, we live in this country as business [people], we are subjected to harassment and discrimination and sometimes just because you are black, people question from where you got the money,” he said. In terms of the Bill the Procurement Policy Office wil have the responsibility of advising the minister on policies, guidelines, standards and manuals required to maintain an internationally competitive public procurement system in Namibia. The office will also be responsible for recommending thresholds, disqualifying, debarring and suspending suppliers and conducting investigations where necessary.

This, according to Kazenambo, if not handled properly, has the potential to discriminate against locally manufactured products, especially those from businesses that are run by black Namibians. He made it clear that he is not in support of the current format of the Bill and walked out of parliament following his contribution, returning only later.

Swapo Party Chief Whip Professor Peter Katjavivi said while the Bill appears to be a tool of empowerment for disadvantaged communities, particularly women and young people, there are still issues that need to be clarified or rectified. He warned against the bureaucratic delays that may occur due to the various structures provided for under the proposed law. “The multiplicity of entities within the Bill creates a worry over bureaucratic delays. If you have the Procurement Policy Office, the Central Procurement Board, the Procurement Committee, the Procurement Management Units and Bid Evaluation Committee, probably we do not need the bid evaluation committees, because procurement committees can as well evaluate bids,” argued Katjavivi.

Lawmakers also feel that not enough public consultation took place with stakeholders to enable them to provide their inputs. Swanu president Usutuaije Maamberua said although a few meetings were held during the drafting of the Bill, there is a need for broader consultation. He was also dissatisfied that the Bill aims to provide preferential treatment to bidders from the previously disadvantaged communities only, saying 23 years after independence the nation should move on and look at the burning social question of poverty based on a broader perspective. He said it is a pity that there appears to be class discrimination in Namibia in terms of the manner in which the economy is structured, which also needs to be addressed in the Bill. “What about a poor white person, if they fall under the lower class? I am proposing that we should not only look at the previously disadvantaged communities, but all people in the lower income categories irrespective of colour.”

Maamberua who is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts is also a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance. He questioned why the Bill is silent on the disposal of government assets, which is a function of the Tender Board. “The [proposed] Board (Central Procurement Board) does not have that function, which is a serious omission,” he observed and further pointed out that the Bill appears to be repealing only the current Tender Board Act 16 of 1996, but not other related Acts such as the Regional Councils Act, which also deals with public procurement.”

Presidential Affairs Minister Dr Albert Kawana adjourned the debate to next week Tuesday. Kawana is expected to offer guidance to parliament on the way forward on the contentious Bill. If the National Assembly is still divided, MPs will have to vote on whether to accept the Bill as it is or to reject it and to send it back to the finance ministry for amendment.

South Africa: Mbeki, Manuel to give evidence in arms probe


The Citizen

July 16th, SAPA

Former president Thabo Mbeki will testify as a witness in the first phase of the Arms Procurement Commission, it was announced.

The commission, which is probing the R70 billion arms procurement deal, will hold public hearings from August 5 until January 31, subject to President Jacob Zuma granting an extension beyond November, spokesman William Baloyi said in a statement on Monday.

Mbeki and Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel were set to testify in the second half of January.

Baloyi said the first phase of the commission would “deal with the rationale for the Strategic Defence Procurement Package”, and whether the arms and equipment acquired were under-utilised or not utilised at all.

The first witnesses would be navy and air force officials. Armscor witnesses would be named later.

Former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils and Congress of the People president Mosiuoa Lekota would be called as witnesses between September 30 and October 4, followed by department of trade and industry officials until November 11.

Former Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin was expected to testify for three days in November, followed by National Treasury officials until the end of that month.

“It is also important to note that the programme is not cast in stone and circumstances prevailing at the hearings may require that it be adapted or altered, and this may also effect the sequence of witnesses,” Baloyi said.

“Some of the witnesses may be recalled at a later stage, when the commission deals with the terms of reference relating to allegations of impropriety, fraud and corruption in the acquisition process, a phase in which the ‘whistleblowers’ and those who are implicated will feature.”

The commission would be held in the council chambers of the Sammy Marks Conference Centre in Pretoria.

The deal, which was initially estimated to cost R43 million, has dogged South Africa’s politics since it was signed in 1999, after then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille raised allegations of corruption in Parliament.

Zuma himself was once charged with corruption after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who had a tender to supply part of the requirements, was found to have facilitated a bribe for him from a French arms company.

The charges against Zuma were later dropped.

Kenya President vetoes huge bonuses for parliament


AP via Huffington Post

TOM ODULA

October 10th, 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s president vetoed a move by the country’s parliament to award legislators bonuses of up to $110,000 at the end of their term next year.

The move is unconstitutional and untenable in the country’s prevailing economic circumstances, President Mwai Kibaki said late Tuesday.

Kibaki noted recent increases of salaries for teachers and doctors, and said Kenya requires massive resources to implement a new constitution and meet other competing demands in the economy.

The legislators last week quietly awarded themselves the bonuses, sparking public outrage.

On Tuesday, at least 100 people, including a popular Kenyan musician, protested outside parliament shouting “thieves” and urging the president not to approve the pay bill.

Kenya’s 222 legislators currently make about $120,000 a year each. The minimum wage in Nairobi, the capital, is about $1,500 a year.

Kenyan parliamentarians are fast earning a reputation for trying to give themselves expensive perks. Last year parliament attempted to raise their annual pay to $175,000 but the idea was met with such fierce public resistance that they shelved the plan. Earlier this year parliament inaugurated a new 350-seat chamber, where each of the seats cost about $3,000.

Human rights and anti-corruption activists say the motion to increase the parliament’s bonus to $110,000 – a vote that passed Thursday night with only about 30 legislators present – violates the country’s 2010 constitution, which does not allow parliament to set its own pay.

Over 200,000 high school and primary school teachers held a strike last month over pay. The government bowed to the demands after three weeks of arguing there was no more money to raise the salaries.

Doctors called off their strike last week after walking out for 18 days to protest the poor state of public hospitals where some of the doctors have had to use their lights from their mobile phones in emergency situations to conduct procedures.

Uganda: Can MPs improve oil contracts?


The Independent

By Andrew M. Mwenda

February 17, 2012

We should be suspicious of parliamentary interventions in lucrative government contracts because they often make a bad situation worse.

Recently, President Yoweri Museveni ordered government of Uganda officials to sign oil Production Sharing Agreements with companies. This was in spite of a resolution by parliament stopping all new agreements. Many Ugandans are rightfully sick and tired of corruption and genuinely suspicious of the executive. They support parliament in its self-proclaimed fight against the problem. Yet I am much more inclined to side with Museveni on signing PSAs.

The signing of oil agreements is important as a signal that investment in the sector can begin. This allows companies interested in investing in downstream and upstream activities feeding into and from the industry to bring in money. For many countries, this leads to increased employment and economic growth. In Ghana, upon signing the agreements, economic growth was 20 percent that year. In Equatorial Guinea, it was 30 percent. The challenge for Uganda actually is to examine the benefits against the costs of delaying these contracts through protracted parliamentary investigations.

I have been a journalist in Uganda for almost 18 years now; my first major story was published in The Monitor in January 1994 when I was a first year student at Makerere University. This has been a fulfilling practical craft given my love of storytelling. It has also been an intellectual journey; my interest in the complexity of social phenomenon has taught me to reflect. So I see a mismatch between the theory of democracy as presented in textbooks and the reality of its outplay in the politics I cover as a journalist.

For instance, democratic theory teaches us that when exercising its functions, parliament seeks to hold the executive to account. It seems theoretically obvious that in passing a resolution suspending signing oil contracts, the House was trying to check any abuses the executive could have made. Yet from my experience, such democratic contestations are often driven by more complex motivations. Even when well-intentioned, they often produce results at odds with the proclaimed purpose. In the case of most government contracts I have covered, these contests undermine the state’s ability to negotiate better deals for the country.

Many Ugandans genuinely believe this parliamentary intervention will stop the corruption of the executive in oil contracts. This faith is largely because many people want to have hope in the destiny of Uganda. Yet my experience shows parliamentary intervention is more likely to make the situation worse. The oil barons who come to Uganda are not fools. They have worked in many other African countries and beyond. They know that Uganda’s 9th parliament is not simply made of selfless MPs tirelessly fighting for the public good. They also know that even when MPs feel for their country – and many do – they also have personal interests…Read more.

Tanzania: Ewura CCC Urges Bunge to Probe Extractive Industry


AllAfrica.com

BY FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE

February 9, 2012

THE parliament should continue pressing for access by its members to all contracts signed between the government and private investors in the extraction of natural resources to get rid of the problems that shroud the mining sector in the country.

According to the Chairman of Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Consumer Consultative Council (EWURA-CCC), Professor Jamindu Katima, most of the problems with contracts signed between the government and private firms in the extractive industry emanate from secrecy.

These contracts are top secret which not even parliament can access easily,” said Prof Katima who is also the Principal of College of Engineering and Technology of University of Dar es Salaam.

He said all contracts in the gas subsector need to be reviewed if proved to be faulty as was the case with Pan African Energy which faces accusations of evading taxes in the tunes of billions of shillings while inflating prices of gas supplied to Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO).

Apart from Songas and Pan African Energy, others companies extracting and supplying natural gas include Canadian Wentworth Resources and French Morel & Prom which are operating at Mnazi Bay in Mtwara region.

Lawmakers should continue to press the executive so that they can access all contracts and where necessary review them,” the Nobel Laureate said. Prof Katima who is a 2009 joint Nobel Laureate argued that Songas Limited may have signed another bad contract with Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation which needs to be reviewed as its power tariffs to Tanesco are also excessive.

The don however warned against any attempt to undo such contracts. “I do not support severing such contracts because experience has shown that it becomes twice a burden to the public,” he pointed out naming Dowans Holdings Limited as the latest example…Read more.

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