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Business News of Friday, 31 October 2014

Source: B&FT Online

Procurement law needs strengthening

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The country’s procurement law still lacks the strength to cover every aspect of procurement effectively despite the achievements of public procurement reforms over the past decade, Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) Samuel Sallas-Mensah has said.

“There is therefore need to sustain the momentum of the current PPA reforms and inject renewed dynamism for greater effectiveness,” he said at the authority’s sixth annual public forum and 10th anniversary event in Accra.

He said poor procurement planning among procurement entities and funding for PPA’s activities are two major challenges confronting effective procurement procedure implementation in the country.

Due to these challenges, some proposals have been made for amendments to the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

Key areas proposed for amendment include reconstitution of the membership of Entities Tender Committees (ETCs) to comprise only internal staff of entities in order to encourage and deepen ownership of purchasing decisions.

Substantial increases have also been proposed to the approval threshold limits of entities in order to minimise the delays associated with processing small threshold values. If approved by parliament heads of entities will have an approval limit of up to Ghc 100,000 for goods and services, and Ghc150,000 for works.

ETCs will also have approval limits of up to Ghc1 million for goods and services, and Ghc2 million for works.

“These amendments are being made in order to streamline and reduce the high cost to government of administering these structures,” Mr. Sallas-Mensah said, adding that the authority will keep on pushing for the integration of public procurement into the overall public finance management framework.

“Currently, the procurement function is sometimes perceived to be outside the framework and only considered when it is time to carry out financial management exercises. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The first step is to get the budget directorate of the Ministry of Finance to impress on entities they must post their procurement plans on PPA’s website before commencement warrants of projects and activities are issued,” he said.

Board chairman of the authority, Commodore Steve Obimpeh (rtd.), said the authority has strived to implement a transparent procurement system with the vision of ensuring a world-class standard that is efficient, transparent, accountable and professionally managed to achieve value-for-money service delivery to Ghanaians.

“I must concede that this 10-year journey has not been without some notable difficulties: such as the use of inappropriate alternative procurement procedures, non-compliance with requirements of procurement planning, and bad contract management,” he stated.

Despite these challenges, the authority has chalked up some successes, too, he noted. The authority has trained over 20,000 procurement functionaries across the country and conducted major assessment exercises for over 1,000 procurement entities nationwide.

“The PPA has also made international strides. We have over the past decade successfully hosted various teams of public procurement regulatory institutions from Tanzania, Botswana, Nigeria and Liberia to benchmark our operations and exchange ideas on effective public procurement management,” the board chairman said.

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