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Namibians pocket N$5 billion worth of tenders

2023-08-15  Aletta Shikololo

Namibians pocket N$5 billion worth of tenders

Seventy-five per cent or over N$5 billion worth of tenders awarded by the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CBPN) went to 100% Namibian-owned companies in the past six years.

In total, the CPBN says it has disbursed about N$6.7 billion worth of bids during the period in question.

Additionally, N$1.6 billion worth of bids went to international companies, while N$160 million has gone into restricted bidding, the Board revealed over the weekend during a two-day information-sharing session for journalists at a local resort outside Okahandja.

According to CPBN procurement administration manager Sibolile Sinvula, the criteria for the open national bidding process is modified to enable the participation of local enterprises in the

This strategic adjustment aims to invigorate the economy and enhance the quality of life for the people of Namibia. The session came at a time when the Board is facing consistent public criticism for disregarding their own tender rules and regulations.

This includes allegations of granting bids to companies that do not meet the good standing requirements with the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) and the Employment Equity Commission.

The Board is furthermore adamant that it has its “house in order”. Addressing the matter, Board chairperson Amon Ngavetene said: “Many of the challenges we are currently encountering, like the prolonged procurement process, can be attributed
to the behaviour of the bidders. A significant
amount of time is spent verifying the legitimacy of the provided supporting documents”.

He observed that the submission of counterfeit documents has become a customary practice among bidders.“After the bidding documents are submitted, the Board, composed of nine appointed members responsible for procurement approval, does not see those submissions until after the bid evaluation committee has completed their assessments. Subsequently, the committee presents their report, and the Board then decides whether to accept or reject the recommendation,” he clarified.

Consequently, meticulously examining each and every document to verify the legitimacy of submissions by bidders becomes a challenging task for the Board, he said.

“However, if there are any indications that cast doubt on the authenticity of the recommendations, we will conduct our own audit. Yet, we find ourselves dedicating more time to corresponding with public entities to seek confirmation,” Ngavetene complained.

He highlighted that for a single bid, the organisation receives approximately 100 bid documents from 100 different companies.

Validating each submitted document from every company can consume a significant amount of time, he said.

Expose bidders

The chairperson urged the media to also play a role in exposing the behaviour of bidders. This, he believes, would deter bidders from taking chances, ultimately reducing the burden on the Board and facilitating quicker procurement processes.

Ngavetene also expressed frustration with what he described as “lazy” public servants, who stall the implementation of the Board’s resolutions and then shift blame to the CPBN.

“When questioned about the delays, then they will say the Board is taking long,” he pointed out. Ngavetene clarified that the entity does not delay the procurement processes and highlighted the improvements made.

He said the evaluation processes now take only 30 days, adding: “In many instances, delays are caused by factors like review applications and appeals to the high court, which contributes to prolonging the final procurement decisions”.

Do your part

Ngavetene also suggested that while the Board is actively attempting to expedite its processes, the ecosystem’s efficiency is hindered by other entities that do not fulfil their responsibilities.

“This thing is this kind of an ecosystem, and every entity in this ecosystem has to play its part. The Board will set up qualification criteria, so for us, it is about ticking the box in terms of submissions but if the ministry of labour plays its part where they are able to pick up non-compliance to the labour conditions and they are able to have a report, it will be easy for us to require bidders to provide proof that they are compliant with labour laws, and we can also easily deal with companies that abuse the labour law and we will simply not give them a tender but in the absence of that, there is nothing we can do,” he explained. 

He said if a contract is terminated due to non-performance, the respective bidder must undergo a review panel assessment for their lack of performance.

Subsequently, they will be disqualified from participating in the upcoming tender processes. “So, it’s a whole long process but other public entities are failing to come forth in that regard.”  Even though there have been numerous media reports about companies manipulating procurement processes, engaging in underperforming practices and securing bids through corrupt means, the Electronic Government Procurement portal only lists three companies that have been officially barred from participating in bid competitions. Meanwhile, Esther Moonde, an official from Ministry of finance procurement policy unit, encouraged more companies to bring non-performing bidders to the review panel.

2023-08-15  Aletta Shikololo

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