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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Columnist: Hinneh, Samuel

Procurement officials in Ghana are lazy-former procurement official

By Samuel Hinneh
An experienced former procurement official who worked in the public sector for decades has described procurement officials in the country as lazy who go into negotiations without any knowledge on the subject matter for discussion.
Mr Alexander Akrofi, the Managing Director of Alfadel Consult, says the attitude has led to a general outcry among procurement professionals with respect to recognition in the profession.
"But to gain the required recognition that procurement professionals crave for can only be gained by being knowledgeable in the sector, understanding the customer such as cost build up, undertaking lots of research to contribute meaningfully in the subject matter being discussed,” he said during the 3rd Procurement and Supply Chain Summit on the theme, Advancing the Frontiers of Procurement and Supply Chain Management Systems in Ghana, held on September 30 to October 1, 2015 in Accra.
"If you want to create the right relationships you need to be able to gather data, you need to understand the environment as well as understand the kind of relationships you want to create and all these will be based on using tools to scan the environment," Mr Akrofi said.
"And many times when you do not access all the information out there you get into meetings and you are lost so most relationships are created not based on value creation but just because we need to buy,” he emphasised.
Dr Tett Affotey-Walters, Director of Procurement and Supply Chain Management at the Civil Service says prior to 2013, there was no procurement professionals group within the civil service, therefore technically procurement did not exist.
"What existed was we have had the law from 2003, but unlike the accountant where you have a financial administration acts and you have qualified accountants who are working at various institutions making sure that they implement the financial administration act and regulation, we did not have professionals. Because by default every institution had to procure then you need to identify anybody within the organisation who you think can be suitable and be fixed in that position to be managing that process," he said.
According to him, things have started improving from 2013 where the procurement and supply chain management department was created similar to the accountants, or the judiciary council, as a result there is a professional group.
"Two years ago we created a scheme of service and details who is qualified to practice procurement within the civil service on behalf of government.
"We have done few recruitment to institutions so this has just started and monthly internally try to build our capacity so that we will come to understand the nuances of operations of the civil service and government business to be able to help reduce those previous incidences where contracts can be given without running any tendering process.
"But with the incoming professionals, we are trying to improve and change the face of the way procurement is done as a result we think that judgement debt has reduced over expenditure,” he stated.
Frank Van Lare at the Procurement Unit of the Ministry of Roads and Highways says procurement professionals need to take advantage of information technology via the internet to keep pace on issues of procurement to ensure value of money.
He emphasised that the professionals currently also need to undertake capacity building courses to acquit themselves on the modern trends of procurement issues.