Monday, September 28, 2020

Gov’t taken to task for hiring foreign consultants

Members of parliament Wednesday were stunned to learn that the government that preaches citizen empowerment and promotion of job opportunities is the same government that actually does not walk the talk.

It emerged in parliament the government employed a foreign based company as consultants to assist the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning with the coordination of the preparation of NDP 10 without an open tendering, a development MPs decried thwarts the much talked about citizen empowerment.

“The consultants that have been engaged to assist my ministry with the coordination of the preparation of the NDP 10 are Mokoro, a foreign company based in London. Mokoro Consultants have experience in NDP preparation as some individuals involved also worked for my ministry, Agriculture and the Bank of Botswana. The consultants were not employed to draw but to assist with its coordination,” revealed the assistant minister of Finance and Development Planning, Duncan Mlazie.

“Plan preparation of NDP 10 is a mammoth task that requires full time coordination, the necessary expertise and dedicated staff over an extended period of time of about 24 months.
“My ministry, following BIDPA selective procurement procedures and in the interest of time, engaged Mokoro Consultants without an open tender,” Mlazie admitted.

He told parliament the finance ministry has, in the past, used in-house capacity in the preparation of the mid-term reviews for NDP 8 and 9 but, due to capacity constraints, “this has not been possible for NDP 10.”
Mlazie told parliament Mokoro Consultants were engaged after unsuccessful attempts by the Bank of Botswana, BIDPA and the World Bank.

“First the ministry approached the Bank of Botswana and BIDPA, who also had capacity constraints and could not release anyone to assist on a full time basis.”

The ministry also approached the World Bank (WB) to assist.

“On assessment, the pair proposed by WB was found to be suitable with relevant expertise and one of them having worked in the Bank of Botswana in the early 80s. Due to the amount of time involved, the World Bank declined as they could not release their consultants as they felt the contract was too long.”

Mlazie said the engagement of consultants for NDP 10 was secured through BIDPA following its selective procurement procedures in the interest of time.

“On realization that they could not provide an in-house expert to undertake plan preparation, BIDPA selectively identified suitable expertise externally from their database and advised my ministry accordingly. My ministry, with the assistance of BIDPA, assessed the consultants and found them to be qualified in terms of expertise to undertake the work.”

As part of their coordination role, consultants provide technical assistance in reviewing and editing ministerial chapters and guide on the submission of programmes and projects to ensure consistency and quality assurance.

MPs are adamant that, instead of engaging foreign companies, such work could have received an open tender as many qualified graduates roam the streets.

Tswapong South MP, Oreeditse Molebatsi, questioned the rationale behind the recruitment amid government talk about citizen empowerment and with unemployment sky-rocketing.
“The Reference Group has been constituted to guide NDP 10 plan preparation consisting of relevant stakeholders from government, trade unions, private sector representatives, university of Botswana, BIDPA and NGOs,” said Mlazie.
Mlazie was answering a question from Mahalapye East MP, Botumile Tshireletso.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.