By Abdoulie Nyockeh
The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) has continued to train government officials on the Gambia public procurement system.
A recent training exercise was the fifth training workshop delivered by GPPA in recent months, which brought the total number of government officers trained to over 250, according to a press release sent to The Point.
The latest training session, held at Ocean Bay Hotel, attracted participants from government ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals, including GPA, CBG, SSHFC and GCAA, according to the release.
The press release further stated that the workshop was delivered by GPPA specialist procurement officers supported by the EU-funded Short Term Technical Assistance consultants led by E John Blunt.
The EU-funded consultants are supporting the implementation of the reform of the procurement regulatory framework, improving the procurements management capacity, and improving the GPPA information systems for procurement in line with the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS).
“THE EU and GPPA are also very pleased to announce that the EU is funding a team of Long Term Technical Assistance Consultants led by Mr Olivier Barnouin and supported by Mr John Auma, who would continue the reforms designed and already underway.”
While much reform has stated, further reform is required, especially in reinforcing key procurement structures, delivering further training and increasing procurement oversight, the release said.
GPPA is responsible for the regulation and monitoring of public procurement in The Gambia, monitoring performance of procuring organizations to ascertain efficiency and compliance with applicable legislation, regulations and instructions, providing annually a quantitative and qualitative assessment of procurement activities in The Gambia to the Minister of Finance and could refer to the Auditor-General any violations.
GPPA recently appeared before the National Assembly’s PAC/PEC where its 2013 activity report was unanimously accepted.
There is wide agreement that significant public spending takes place through the public procurement system, and a well-functioning procurement system ensures that Government funds are used effectively to achieve efficiency and value for money in the delivery of programmes and services by the government.
Up to 70 per cent of a government’s budget is spent through a public procurement process.
A specific focus of this workshop is consideration of achieving ‘Value for Money’.
Value for money does not necessarily mean the lowest price. It is a product of Quality, Time and Cost and there are clear trade-offs between the three.
For example, a higher quality outcome may involve a longer delivery timeframe or higher cost, or both. In assessing value for money, each component must be assigned a measure of relative importance.
Delivery of value for money in public procurement in The Gambia could be assisted by a number of actions including avoiding unnecessary purchases – procure only what is needed; improving the management of inventory and assets to ensure government knows what it has and where, so that a reallocation of resources rather than procurement should be the first consideration.
Focusing on competitive tendering for all procurement barriers to the participation of suppliers being removed, limiting exemptions from compliance with provisions of PPA (2014), especially for public works and utilities’ procurement and institutions, all exemptions should be item specific and of time limit.
It also ensured that all procuring organisations are regularly assessed by GPPA.
The design, development and delivery of the training workshops is just the start for GPPA, which is implementing its 2015 Training Plan with the support of the EU which will include members of National Assembly and its PAC/PEC, officers from the National Audit Office, Internal Auditors, officers from subvented institutions and members of the new Procurement Cadre.
GPPA is also planning to train suppliers and contractors on ‘How to do business with Government’.
GPPA is also planning to deliver training regionally to assist all officers who are not able to access training in Banjul.
The recent trainings demonstrate GPPA’s commitment to building the capacity of stakeholders of The Gambia public procurement system, the release added.