The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has taught local administrators numerous lessons insofar as public procurement is concerned. This is particularly relevant with respect to the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
Last week in the National Assembly, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi said Covid-19 brought about the need for Namibia to adopt new methods of procurement in order to access pandemic vaccines and other essential pharmaceutical and clinical products. This, he said, is for the country to benefit from economies of scale through the utilisation of combined resources, specifically in terms of procurement mechanisms.
“The insertion of section 38B is intended to lay down a policy and legal framework to enable the government to procure inter alia essential goods such as vaccines and other essential pharmaceutical and clinical products through the pooled procurement mechanism,” he noted while motivating the tabling of the proposed amendments to the Public Procurement Act 2015.
Shiimi said public procurement is an important policy tool for safeguarding the use of public finances to ensure effective and efficient service delivery by public institutions, and an advancement of the national development agenda in general.
In this light, it is thus imperative to constantly review current legislation in order to fill the gaps identified from time to time to ensure the public procurement system remains responsive to constant changes in the socio-economic environment.
The purpose of the public procurement amendment bill is to amend the Public Procurement Act, 2015 so as to insert certain definitions and substitute certain others to provide for the appointment of the chairperson and the CEO of the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN). The amendment further aims to clarify certain methods of procurement, to provide for joint procurement of goods and services, to provide for the application for reconsideration of the decisions of the board or public entities, and to provide for incidental matters.
In highlighting some of the critical amendments contained in the public procurement amendment bill, Shiimi stated that the review panel is one of the institutional structures created under the Public Procurement Act to adjudicate applications for reviews launched by aggrieved bidders.
“It has been identified through the implementation of the Act that in most instances, matters that are launched with the review panel would have been resolved at the public entity level. In other instances, bidders, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), forfeit the opportunity to make use of the review panel due to lack of financial resources,” he explained.
To address this, the insertion of section 55(4A) introduces a new process of reconsideration, whereby an aggrieved bidder will first ask the public entity to reconsider its decision free of any charges, and will only approach the review panel when not satisfied with the outcome of the reconsideration.
“This has the potential to decongest the load at the review panel and to alleviate the cost implications on bidders, especially SMEs, as there are no costs involved when applying for reconsideration,” he stated. -firstname.lastname@example.org