Home » Governance » Procurement Board’s Powers Cut

The State Procurement Board has been stripped of powers to award tenders following the discovery of loopholes that could have facilitated corrupt activities by board members. Addressing permanent secretaries and other heads of Government departments at a workshop on SPB reform in Harare yesterday, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said huge potential for corrupt practices in the tendering process had necessitated the changes.

The awarding of tenders will now be done by accounting officers in various State departments and companies, with the SPB only playing a supervisory and monitoring role to ensure Government entities comply with the Procurement Act and other set standards.

Dr Sibanda said the reform of the SPB sought to facilitate growth of small and medium enterprises and the incorporation of e-procurement technology, among other things.

“Another feature of this procurement reform agenda is the decentralisation of the procurement of various goods and services to procuring entities in the different public sector spheres,” he said.

“The public procuring entities, in this case, will comprise Government ministries, parastatals, State enterprises and local authorities.

“To ensure that they effectively discharge this role, the entities will be capacitated through effectively robust skills development programmes targeting accounting officers, respective heads of parastatals, State enterprises, local authorities and institutional procurement committees.”

Dr Sibanda said the reform of the SPB would be e-enabled and that this called for massive investment in ICT infrastructure, hardware and software.

He said a special committee chaired by the Office of the President and Cabinet would be set up to monitor smooth progression of the reform process.

Some of the special committee members would be drawn from the Public Service Commission, ministries of Finance and Economic Development and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula said in an interview that SPB reform was in line with the implementation of Zim-Asset, which calls for high efficiency in the service delivery system.

He described the SPB as a critical institution in Government when it comes to service delivery.

“The attempt now is to transform the State Procurement Board to make it more efficient by way of decentralising the bulky of work to those procurement entities and then the SPB itself playing more of a regulatory responsibility by ensuring that the procuring entities are actually complying with the Procurement Act,” said Dr Ndhlukula.

Speaking in an interview, SPB chair Mr Charles Kuwaza hailed the new order, saying it would expedite the awarding of tenders.

He highlighted the importance of training of senior officers in Government institutions on how to handle tenders.

“We want to train them in all these areas. So what was agreed here is that the OPC will lead the campaign to train these senior officers,” said Mr Kuwaza. “For us to succeed, that can only be if all these people are trained.”

World Bank senior procurement specialist Mr Howard Centenary, who was engaged by Government to share experiences on best practices in modern procurement systems, said the current procedures employed by Zimbabwe did not meet international best practices.

“You currently have a State Procurement Board which is responsible for procurement transactions, but it is also responsible for policing how other agencies do procurement,” he said.

“This becomes conflicting function. Can you be a player and the referee in the same game? And I think this is where there is g recommendation to have the State Procurement Board focus being a regulator. The regulator in other countries sets the standards and everybody has to abide by that.

“The regulator also receives reports to assess whether the system is being complied with.”

Mr Centenary said the SPB should be responsible for building capacity of institutions with limited knowledge on procurement.

African Development Bank chief regional procurement coordinator Mr Mukul Kumar said SPB reform was essential for efficient service delivery. He said it was important to separate powers and spell out the roles of the SPB unlike the current situation where it also supervised other procuring agencies.

Source : The Herald