The long awaited revised Public Procurement Bill tabled by Minister of Finance Hon. Calle Schlettwein on Tuesday and is set to provide more preference to local products, previously disadvantaged women and youths, SMEs and local enterprises in general, with regards to issues raised by manufacturing industry.
Schlettwein. said, “The Bill, unlike the Tender Board of Namibia Act of 1996, will be applicable to all public entities, with a view to harmonise procurement procedures in all government entities and also to better leverage the strategic importance of public procurement to achieve our socio-economic objectives”.
The minister announced that the Bill gives government wider control and the ability to better assess the impact of public procurement on the economy. Moreover, it will improve governance and enhance the image of Namibia as a preferential trading partner and ultimately as a credible investment destination. Ultimately, the Bill will reform public procurement from a process function to critical tool to assist government in the attainment of its strategic goals.
As recommended a Procurement Policy Unit; a Central Procurement Board and the ad hoc Review Panel will be appointed to ensure that the objectives of transparency, value for money, accountability, fair competition and equal treatment of all bidders are achieved.
“The Procurement Policy Unit will serve as the technical arm for the ministry. It’s main responsibilities is issue of guidelines, instructions and standard forms, capacity building of officials and bidders, provision of advice on procedures, review of the law, regulations and procedures to adapt to changing circumstances and compliance and performance monitoring,” he said.
“These, critical functions are neither in current Tender Board Act, of 1996 nor are they performed by any institution in Namibia. The establishment of the Policy Unit will, therefore, fill this vacuum,the Central Procurement Board will replace the current Tender Board, but will be quite different in some aspects with a view to achieve a higher level of efficiency,” he added.
The minister said it will be constituted by persons who have the required expertise to efficiently conduct the bidding process and who will be recruited after a call for applications. In addition, the chairperson and the deputy chairperson will serve on a full time basis as administrative head and deputy administrative head to manage the day to day operations of the Central Procurement Board. Unlike at present, bid evaluation will be done at the Central Procurement Board by a Bid Evaluation Committee constituted by persons having the required expertise and appointed on an ad hoc basis.
“The Review Panel will sit as and when required. It will be constituted by experts in the specialized fields. They will be appointed from a pre-approved list maintained by the Ministry of Finance after a public call for applications. The Policy Unit will give particular attention to preferences and monitor performance with a view to ensure a positive economic impact of the empowerment measures. The rest of the Bill provides for the procurement methods and their conditions for use, procurement planning, the bidding procedures as well as duties and responsibilities of public entities, officials, bidders and suppliers with a view to avoid conflict of interest, corrupt and fraudulent practices,” said Schlettwein.
Meanwhile, government has over the years come under fire as members of the public especially the manufacturing industry stakeholders have over the years called for changes in the manner in which the State procures goods and service. Concern was raised that in its current format the process of awarding contracts is flawed and open to manipulation, especially when it comes to awarding State contracts.
Once enacted, the law will also provide for the appointment of bid evaluation committees and procurement methods. According to the minister, the Bill aims to provide for the bidding process, bidding challenges and reviews; provide employment of Namibian citizens.