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Opinions of Thursday, 11 March 2010

Columnist: Adu, Joseph Ampomah

Silas, You Are Welcome

I will like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as chief executive of the Public Procurement Authority. This is an enviable and prestigious position and any one occupying it should be given the necessary respect and support he deserves. The Public Procurement Authority role is very important in our march towards transparent and value for money procurement, but it seems the PPA itself needs some help and I am therefore given you this small state of nation address on our profession.

It looks to me that the Public Procurement Authority is like a town without indigenes and therefore the King must necessary be brought from another town to rule. I still find it difficult to understand why the Authority can not find a qualified procurement professional for the job of Chief Executive. The first thing you should know is that your staffs is poorly paid and therefore PPA can not attract procurement professional to work in the organisation. I know for a fact that your position deserve a better remuneration than what is being offered to the occupant and as the chief executive it should be one of your first priority to fight for the right and appropriate remuneration for your staff because at the moment the right calibre of staff will not accept appointment to work at the Authority which should be apex of the profession. Secondly, the procurement profession is poor at getting the brightest and best to train because of the low esteem and poor remuneration offered to procurement professional by both the public and private firms. There is also the issue of free entry where every Tom, Dick and Harry can be put in the position of procurement officer unlike other professions where there is minimal entry requirement, accounting, legal, medicine etc. The perennial phrase of lack of capacity in the procurement can be also be solved with more emphasis on attracting bright young student to study procurement as first degree course rather than getting into the profession by accident. This PPA must act fast to encourage procurement training by restricting entry to position without qualification. “Lack of awareness of procurement among graduates filters down from the common misconception of the role of buyers within companies… Procurement is still seen as secondary function within the vast majority of organisations, so it fails miserably when it comes to attracting the best candidates” Carly Chynoweth - supply manangement 3rd December 2009 Another important issue that you need to take a look at is job security for the procurement professional in the public sector, in most cases public sector buyers are held back by red tape and threat of losing their job which do not allow them to do work effectively. This can be testifying by reports of Audits on public procurement every year. Some heads of entities have no regard for the procurement person (I hesitate to use professional because of the fact that majority of them are not) and therefore take decision on procurement without the involvement of the procurement staff. They attempt to influence the outcome of every tender and sometime insist on awarding contract to unqualified suppliers. There are many topical issues that procurement professionals can contribute their expertise to improve policies, one such issue is the local contents policy for firms involved in the oil industry, how do we as nation craft a policy that in the long run will not be just on paper?. For instance, how do we target people that will benefit from this policy and start training them to understand what they should be doing in order to take advantage of the policy? The green procurement as it affects Ghana environmental and judicious use of our natural resources, redefining the role of procurement professional to be part of management to improve their understanding of business synergy and strategic planning. The PPA is developing a curriculum for training, how is it going when will the schools start training, so we have formal training suited for our purpose? Once again I wish luck in getting PPA to be effective organisation that supports good procurement and bringing respect to the profession.

Joseph Ampomah Adu Joseph is procurement expert and also teaches candidates preparing for CIPS professional exams.