Chairperson of the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) Patrick Swartz yesterday said contract management remains one of the biggest challenges the board faces.
He also noted a lack of capacity building in public procurement, as public entities lack the capacity to handle complex procurement, specification writing and evaluation criteria.
This, he said, can be rectified with formal training with a professional body comprised of short-term and on the job training.
“There is a lack of compliance to contract requirements from public entities and other laws such as labour. To mitigate this challenge, the board decided to have closer working relations with the public entities and project managers to identify non-compliance early, scrutinise progress reports and engage with regular site visits,” he explained yesterday during a media briefing.
According to Swartz, many public entities also fail to comply with legal timelines, specifically where health protocols require projects to be completed on time.
He further noted that complexity and bid size also affect evaluation: “There is a need to amend procedures and processes to respond to health-related concerns early,” he said.
Moreover, awarded bidders also find it difficult to obtain performance guarantees within the time provided by law – and for this, more stringent financial requirements bids were proposed as a possible solution.
Furthermore, Swartz stated the estimated value of current procurement projects stands in the region of N$1.3 billion, with projects 29 in the planning phase, 22 in the bidding phase, and only one in the contract phase.
As at 30 September 2021, there were six individual procurement plans approved by the board at a total value of N$630 million.
Also, of the awarded projects, Swartz said, the board encouraged joint ventures between foreign and domestic companies to tackle the issue of skills transfer and the notion that Namibians have no capacity to perform certain tasks.
He also noted that the board cancelled some projects because no bidders were found, necessitating the need for the process to start over.
The CPBN chairman further noted that in 2018, there was a significant increase in contract extensions, valued at about N$2 billion – and for this reason, the board decided to cut and find ways to cater for new contracts.
Current contract extensions stand at below N$500 million.
According to a report recently released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), there is generally low compliance with the Public Procurement Act by State-owned enterprises.
IPPR believes this phenomenon is largely due to limited proficiency of procurement personnel at public entities, limited understanding of the Act, lack of information technology facilities, lack of implementation of compliance measures and sporadic releasing of funds, among other challenges.