The Public Procurement Act, which came into effect in 2017, is to be amended – and for this reason, the Ministry of Finance, through its Procurement Policy Unit, is currently engaged in the amendments. The Act, which regulates the procurement of goods and services by government entities, is being amended to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the legislation and its institutional arrangements.
According to finance ministry spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu, a series of public consultation sessions have been scheduled for this month (March) to obtain input from various stakeholders on how to make the legislation more effective.
“The amendments were brought out of public consultations when it was realised that certain provisions of the Act need to be amended. This will include strengthening governance issues around the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN),” said Shidhudhu.
CPBN currently consists of nine board members, appointed by the minister of finance. While the chairperson and deputy chairperson are appointed on a five-year term on a full-time basis, the remaining seven board members are part-time and serve for three years only.
Said Shidhudhu: “The chairperson and deputy chairperson are also responsible for administrative issues of the institution, which sometimes becomes a challenge when they have to present their matters to the board, where they also serve as chairperson and deputy chairperson. It is proposed that this arrangement be changed and that the CPBN employs an administrative head, who will act as the CEO. If that amendment is anything to go by, then the chairperson and deputy will also become part-time like other board members”.
The finance ministry spokesperson continued that the proposed amendments will also look at strengthening the review of the bidding process as well as strengthening efficiency among accounting officers at government entities in taking decisions and delegating authority and also improving transparency in the public procurement process.
“All-in-all, we just want to inform the public that the Act is going to be amended and public consultations are scheduled to start on 8 March 2021. Due to Covid-19, the consultations will be done virtually and we would like to request the public to take interest in these consultations because this is a very important piece of legislation in the development of our country. Input from public entities, business communities and other interested stakeholders are crucial before the draft is taken to Parliament,” Shidhudhu concluded.
According to figures provided by the CPBN, government paid a whopping N$1.9 billion to a mere nine companies between 2017 to 2020 for tender extensions for the supply of school food suppliers and the State-funded medical aid fund.
However, businesses are concerned that failure to advertise these tenders means the State is caught up in costly deals that enriched a few companies and individuals.
The Namibian newspaper recently reported that the beneficiaries of the tender extensions include eight companies that have been getting extensions since 2017 and have received N$1.7 billion without any of these services being advertised for tenders.