Namibian contractors must be first in the queue for all large public construction projects
Local construction capacity must be utilised first wherever possible, stated the Construction Industries Federation of Namibia this week when it offered a range of criteria it feels must be applied to government procurement.
The federation’s General Manager, Bärbel Kirchner, said “We are keen for our proposal of procurement preferences or similar initiatives such as set-asides that protect our local industry, to find its way into future regulations. This will ensure that our “local industry” can most optimally benefit from any opportunities in the public sector.”
With regard to citizenship, the Construction Industries Federation (CIF) proposes that any contractor with less than 100% Namibian ownership for contract values of up to N$10 million should be disqualified immediately. For contract values from N$10 million to N$50 million, a minimum of 50% Namibian ownership should be required. This should also be relevant for any joint ventures, where each partner in the undertaking should meet the minimum requirement to qualify. If joint ventures are not scored separately, a minimum of 100% Namibian ownership should be a requirement for contract values up to N$50 million.
The CIF also recognises that citizenship can not be the only criterion. Other factors that should be taken into consideration are the shareholding of previously disadvantaged persons, women, the youth and the disabled, the ratio depending on the size of the project.
Other important criteria are the financial strength and the technical skills and experience of the bidding entity, which become more critical with the increase of the size of the project. Established, large and major contractors should also be scored on their contribution to skills transfer.
The CIF stated that it has designed such a framework to categorise contractors and that this was presented to the Ministry of Finance in the past.
To avoid middle men or tenderpreneurs, the federation said it would be important that the combined citizenship of directors and senior management of the bidding entity or entities is also taken into consideration. Additionally, contractors must be able to furnish proof of the successful completion of previous projects to prevent foreign contractor paying front men to do the bidding.
“We believe that we need to look at all these criteria holistically in our adjudication of tenders. Currently, the playing field is not in favour of Namibian contractors who often can not compete on price. However, we need to maintain local capacities to secure their continued contribution to Namibia’s economy. The more we engage local, the more we develop and empower our own people” concluded Kirchner.