Project to promote transparency in public procurement unveiled, Friday, January 24, 2014

•   Dr Oboeh-Ocansey (left), the Chairman of Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Major Daniel Sowa Ablorh-Quarcoo (Rtd) and Mrs Florence Dennis (3rd left), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), jointly launching the Open Contracting Guide report in Accra.Pictures: SAMUEL TEI ADANO• Dr Oboeh-Ocansey (left), the Chairman of Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Major Daniel Sowa Ablorh-Quarcoo (Rtd) and Mrs Florence Dennis (3rd left), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), jointly launching the Open Contracting Guide report in Accra.Pictures: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
 The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) is adopting new strategies to promote transparency and accountability in the award of government contracts, an official of the PPA has said.
A key component of the strategies is the listing of all tenders online.
The process is part of a pilot e-procurement project which provides a common platform for use by public institutions in public procurement and public financial management, and enhances competition by facilitating increased participation of service providers for government contracts.
Other approaches that have been adopted to reduce corruption include publication of tenders of contracts above a certain threshold in newspapers and websites and public opening of tenders in competitive bidding.
Financed by the World Bank, the e-procurement project is part of an e-Ghana project to introduce electronic transaction into government business.
The introduction of the e-procurement system is expected to bring a major relief to contractors and suppliers who are often robbed of the genuine opportunity to win bids for contracts they tender. The system will also check rampant corrupt practices which emanate from the involvement of human interface in the procurement processes.
PPA Activities
Speaking on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of the PPA, the Head of Human Resource and Administration of the PPA, Ms Yvonne Vanderpuye, said “Our collective monitoring of the process of selection and execution of contracts is critical to securing excellent values for the monies we spend.”
“Even though our systems are not well developed, we are working hard on e-procurement that will take away the human factor as far as procurement is concerned or reduce the human interaction which is susceptible to corruption on most occasions,” she said.  
 She was addressing a stakeholder’s forum on Open Contracting, organised by Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) in Accra.
Ms Vanderpuye said  “most times contracts are awarded and everybody goes to sleep but we must ensure that entities continue monitoring projects, until they are fully closed. For goods, until the goods are delivered into stores, and received according to the contracts awarded, the contracts have not been completed.”
Critics of procurement process
Currently, government spends 70 per cent of its budget after emolument on procurement of goods, works and services every year through contracts.  
However, information related to such contracts is scanty, thereby, preventing the citizenry from deriving benefits of the huge investments.
According to critics, even though Ghana’s Procurement Act was enacted on the principles of transparency, accountability, efficiency, economy and sustainability, there is growing perception that contracts are awarded not on the basis of factors including competence through evaluation criteria of specification, personnel, resources, experience, financial capacity and equipment holding but rather connections.  
To change the trend, the World Bank Institute and World Bank Africa Region have supported diverse stakeholders in West and East Africa to promote open contracting initiatives.
Stakeholders speak
Mrs Florence Dennis, the Executive Secretary of the GACC, made a strong case for community participation, saying “these are contracts that our governments sign on our behalf. The whole idea is that if you want more transparency, more accountability, and more value for money, then these contracts that are signed on our behalf should be made open. There should be disclosure and participation in some of these contracts.”
The Chairman of the Ghana Contract Monitoring, Dr Oboeh Ocansey, called for an evaluation of the establishment of the PPA to see if the country had really benefited from the law and the regulatory institution.
Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, the Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy Policy, expressed reservations about the lack of diligence on the part of Parliament before endorsing contracts for oil exploration in the country, some of which ended up in the hands of companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions.
Writer’s email: seth.bokpe@graphic.com.gh

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