Public entities are making use of non-competitive methods of procurement without justifications for deviating from the competitive method of open national bidding.
This conclusion was contained in the latest procurement tracker paper, launched on Monday by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).
“This phenomenon has a direct impact on the achievement of outcomes expected of competitive procurement processes of procurement,” the report found.
Similarly, the report noted that based on public entity reporting, during the Covid-19 state of emergency period, from 27 March to 4 May 2020, 95.2% of procurements were conducted through direct procurement, as 1 009 of the 1 060 deals did not involve any form of competition where not more than one bidder participated.
According to the Procurement Policy Unit (PPU) 2020/21 report, 78% of public entities, 135 out of 173, had submitted annual procurement plans.
The objective of PPUs is to regulate the procurement of goods, works and services, the letting or hiring of anything, or the acquisition or granting rights for or on behalf of and the disposal of assets of public entities.
As for the submission of quarterly procurement progress reports, the PPU report noted that while compliance was still generally low, the levels of compliance across categories of public entities had slightly increased.
The report stated: “While compliance on publication of reports continues to be low, overall compliance rose from 17% overall compliance in 2019/20 to 38% compliance in 2020/21”.
Continued use of non-competitive methods by public entities without justification is one of the challenges identified by PPU, among the lack of an integrated public procurement system to provide data, limited compliance on production and publishing of annual procurement plans and procurement implementation reports, as well as delays in crafting and implementing requisite regulations.
Other challenges include the absence of a public procurement performance assessment mechanism, slow uptake and compliance with ministerial directives and requests, and lack of instruments for assessing the impact of the procurement system on government’s socio-economic policy objectives.
Furthermore, IPPR made some recommendations to PPU to continue to educate public entities on the correct use of procurement methods to
support the achievement of the objectives of the Public Procurement Act.
The research institute also urged the e-government procurement system to be fast-tracked to support the need for information on the system and its overall performance.
“PPU should publish regular information on non-compliant public entities to prompt compliance action. To reduce the misapplication of the direct procurement method under the guise of conducting procurements on an emergency basis, the PPU, in terms of 25 section 7(1), should provide guidelines or information briefs on the correct procedures for undertaking emergency procurement and direct procurement,” IPPR advised.
IPPR further assessed some public entities in terms of compliance with the legislation.
Section 8(1) (d) of the Public Procurement Act of 2015 states that a public entity has to produce an annual procurement plan, which should be submitted to
the PPU and posted or published on the website of that public entity.
Of those assessed, only nine had their 2022/23 annual procurement plans up on their websites, while only six consistently published summaries of bids awarded in the manner as called for in the regulations. “While the assessed public entities that had their annual procurement plans posted on their websites had listed quite a number of procurement actions to be undertaken in the current financial year, only the bid report summaries of some or few undertaken procurement actions are viewable on their websites,” reads the report.
Shadow finance minister of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Nico Smit said the publication contains serious allegations of discretionary spending outside the rigid parameters of the Procurement Act.
He stated if a government official bypasses the requirements of the act and suspends the condition for competitive pricing unless so allowed by a regulation relaxing the requirement, then that person is in transgression of the law and, in effect, a criminal.
“It is a short hop from suspending a competitive
tender process to inviting one’s friends and associates to submit tenders with the understanding that these will be accepted regardless of the law,” said the policymaker.
However, the Presidency yesterday said an article that was published by The Namibian newspaper on Tuesday, which stated: “The Office of the President and 15 other ministries have failed to comply with the law by publishing their annual procurement plans, almost seven months into the current financial year”, is concerning, as it created the impression that the Presidency is in breach of the Public Procurement Act, “which is not the truth”.
According to the statement, the Presidency submitted its annual procurement plan for the 2022/2023 financial year on 5 April 2022, in accordance with Section 25 (4) (a) of the Public Procurement Act, Act 15 of 2015 and Public Procurement Guidelines 1.5 (1), which require each public entity to file its annual procurement plan with the procurement policy unit.