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Opinions of Monday, 11 March 2013

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Public Procurement Contracts: Let Common-Good Considerations Prevail

By Kofi Thompson

Since the case between Global Fluids International and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) is sub judice, I will not discuss it - safe to say in passing that President Mahama's administration must learn valuable lessons from it, when judgement is finally pronounced in the matter.

Far too many public entities and the public servants who work in them, are ignoring the common-good considerations that underpin the National Procurement Act, in choosing companies to award contracts to, under the Public Procurement Act 663, of 2003.

In a hypothetical case, assuming that a fuel-marking product could prevent widespread adulteration of fuel in filling stations in Ghana, why would public officials reject a bid from its manufacturer in favour of a lower-priced one that would permit the unhelpful status quo of fuel adulteration in some filling stations to persist?

Is a more or less fool-proof means of detecting and preventing the adulteration of fuel, by marking the fuel in a manner that makes possible on-site testing and delivery of test results of the quality of fuel sold at the forecourt of filling stations across the country, not a boon to motorists?

Furthermore, could one not argue that the ability to test fuel quality and show the results of such tests at the forecourt of filling stations - right in front of those working there - will encourage and ensure the maintenance of set industry quality standards nationwide?

Would it also not be in the interest of vehicle owners that the quality of fuel in both tanker trucks delivering fuel to filling stations, and the fuel in the underground fuel storage tanks of those selfsame petrol filling stations was of acceptable standard?

And would that also not ultimately redound to the benefit of the Ghanaian economy - by lessening the phenomenon of damaged vehicle engines (and the expense involved in replacing them) caused by adulterated fuel purchased in petrol filling stations across the country?

Public officials in Ghana must ensure that common-good considerations - not lowest-price false economy that benefits a well-connected few, secretly receiving kickbacks - ultimately decide winning bids, when public procurement contracts are put out to tender. A word to the wise...