Much to the consternation of its MP, Botswana’s second city – which is a commercial hub for the northern part of the country, is still without a Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board office.
This past week, Parliament heard that PPADB’s plans to establish a satellite office in Francistown and three other major centres across the country have been frustrated by budgetary constraints experienced by the entire government.
Through a parliamentary question, Francistown South MP, Wynter Mmolotsi, expressed concern that people in the northern part of the country suffer great inconvenience because they cannot access PPADB’s services.
“I am aware of the challenges faced by people in the north and other regions of this country when they want to access services of this office. In view of that PPADB has devolved some of its functions to ministerial tender committees and has established district administration tender committees throughout the country (including Francistown and surrounding areas) to facilitate adjudication and award of tenders at district level,” said the assistant finance minister, Vincent Seretse.
All told, the district committees are in 24 places countrywide.The project for the establishment of the offices was to be implemented during the 2009/10 financial year which, as it turned out, was the height of the global financial meltdown that dampened the diamond markets in the United States and Japan. While the project has been put on hold, the minister added that funds permitting, “it may be considered in the future.” However, it does not look like all that inconvenience that the MP complained about will end in the event that PPADB sets up the satellite offices in Francistown as well as in Palapye, Gantsi and Maun. On the Board’s website, a variation of what the minister told parliament reads as follows: “Plans are afoot to open branches in major centres in Botswana, where the public may access some of the PPADB services.” “Some” would suggest that those branches would not offer all services.
While PPADB (and indeed the rest of government) waits for the economy to get back in shape, it is also implementing a system called the Integrated Procurement Management System that allows contractors to apply for registration online and pay registration fees at any post office in the country.
“PPADB continues to improve the efficiency of the system in order to improve access to services. In addition, such services as certifying PPADB certificates will become unnecessary over time as verification of certificates would be done online,” Seretse said.
PPADB was established as an independent authority responsible for the coordination and management of public procurement of public works, supplies, services for government as well as to dispose of assets. Its primary mandate is to adjudicate and award tenders for central government and any other institutions specified under the Act of Parliament that establishes it for the delivery of works, services and supplies related services. It registers and grades contractors who do business with government.