WINDHOEK – While applauding those public entities that have implemented internal procurement committees, as required by the Procurement Act, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday said she was disturbed by reports that some public entities do not have internal organisational structures in place; and that some did not submit their annual procurement plans to the Procurement Policy Unit in the Ministry of Finance.
The PM was addressing a workshop in Windhoek for ministers and executive directors on the Public Procurement Act. The workshop was attended by cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and senior government officials.
The Procurement Act requires public entities to implement internal procurement committees and internal procurement units to conduct and manage internal procurements and to submit annual procurement plans to the Procurement Policy Unit.
“The Procurement Policy Unit is empowered under the law to monitor compliance with the Act and with the directives issued by the minister. The policy unit is, therefore, required to develop and implement a procurement performance assessment system and institute contract audits and performance audits,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. She added that yesterday’s workshop was expected to assess the extent to which the Procurement Policy Unit has performed its role.
“Public entities are required to submit annual procurement plans to the policy unit for analysis and approval. It is expected from the policy unit to grant these approvals in a timely manner to avoid delays in implementation. Further it is expected that policy implementation guidance is issued to public entities to ensure consistency with policy objectives, aiming at economic development and benefits to the public, through local sourcing and job creation,” said the prime minister.
Recently, the Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein issued procurement directives requiring all public entities north of the cordon fence to procure meat, fresh produce, mahangu, beans, cereal and their by-products to levels and quality available in those areas. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila proposed that this arrangement be replicated in the rest of the country and should extend to other products produced locally, for both goods and services.
“Further, directives are required to reserve some public tenders for local companies, including local SMEs and companies owned by women and youth. I urge all public entities to include these aspects in their procurement specifications. The Central Procurement Board and Policy Unit are expected to keep statistics for proper monitoring and evaluation,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated.
She added that it is also important that the delays in processing procurement approvals and procurement bids are addressed, saying: “In fact, we should put in place timelines within which these approvals should be granted.”
Also speaking at yesterday’s gathering, Schlettwein noted that the primary objective of the workshop is for the executive to provide recommendations and policy guidance on the specific areas of constraint experienced and new opportunities for improvement, within the overall framework of the Procurement Act. This, said Schlettwein, is to be achieved against the backdrop of a comprehensive assessment of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities experienced since the commencement of the new law.
“Specifically, the objective is to ensure that a turnaround in the management and administration of public procurement function is achieved by providing short-term alternative measures for immediate implementation in terms of the law, as well as guidance on medium to long-term proposals for which the implementation modalities require more time to develop. Such high-level recommendations and policy guidance must be translated into implementation modalities at the technical level in the shortest possible timeline, consistent with the national priority attached to the role of public procurement in the economy and service delivery to the public,” said Schlettwein.
The finance minister added that in terms of output, the workshop should provide realistic and specific recommendations on the immediate implementation modalities in all areas of binding constraints, while developing longer-term solutions.
“I must emphasise that the urgency for short-term solutions for immediate implementation arises from the overriding principle commitment to ensure uninterrupted delivery of public services and to unleash the potential of public procurement in the economy, noting the persistent recessionary pressures in the domestic economy. One such example of immediate solutions is the recent issuance of the directive on local sourcing of goods, works and services by the Minister of Finance, while the relevant regulations are being developed. A departure from business as usual in other areas of persistent challenges is needed to speed up the design and implementation of innovative approaches not inconsistent with the law,” Schlettwein concluded.