The minister responsible for Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo has implored members of the public to report corruption activities that occur at the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) to the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC). Opening the second PPADB office in Francistown last week, he said public procurement by its nature is prone to corruption as it is the meeting place for the public and private sectors.
“This calls for the need for PPADB to develop initiatives of finding effective ways of mitigating corruption risks in public procurement with the cooperation of procuring entities and contractors. Therefore, I call upon all members of the public to report any corruption they become aware of to the DCEC for investigation and appropriate action be taken. At the same time I must caution against temptation of people making reckless and unfounded allegations which are not helpful to anybody but can only erode the confidence in the procurement system,” he said.
Matambo also said that although the PPDAB is a small organization in terms of staff complement which is currently 120, it has a big and sensitive mandate. He said public procurement is a competitive undertaking which create winners and losers. He said consequently not all companies that bid can win tenders. He also said public procurement is also a governance issue, as it is about optimal use of public resources to create works, supplies and services for the benefit of the public.
“As a result, PPDAB has a difficult task of managing procurement and making award decisions for major tenders. There have been instances where some of the losing bidders are aggrieved and tend to cast accusations on the integrity of PPDAB, the procurement system, procuring entities and tender committees. PPDAB therefore needs the support of all the stakeholders for them to do their work professionally without fear or favor,” he said.
The minister said in addition to the role played by PPADB, there is also the Independent Complaints Review which is made up of experts from the private sector, whose role is to objectively review the decisions of PPADB and procuring entities. He further pleaded with the contracting community for them to avoid frivolous complaints, some of them which are intended to frustrate the government efforts to provide timely service to Batswana. Matambo said PPADB introduced Contractor Registration, which is part of the Integrated Procurement Management System in 2012 and it has intensified the monitoring of compliance to the PPADB Act.
“It also supports capacity building with the assistance of strategic partners such as the Botswana Accountancy College, the World Bank, and the United States Trade and Development Agency. The Board conducts random project site visits and project audits to check if execution is in line with tender awards,” the minister added.
He explained that it is very crucial for the project implementation and contract management by procuring entities to improve significantly as they impact negatively on timely service delivery. On a positive note, Matambo said PPADB is committed to becoming the centre of excellence in public procurement and asset disposal by 2018, hence there is need to strengthen the procurement legislation and improve procedures and practices. He also said government is working with the PPADB on modalities to reform procurement to ensure it delivers the desired outcomes. Touching on the new Francistown PPDAB office, the minister said the opening of the office is a clear indication of the PPADB’s commitment to improve customer service.
“The long distances travelled by customers to seek services at PPADB Gaborone office and the associated costs will be reduced. I am aware that other regions across the country are already calling for the establishment of PPDAB offices in order to improve access to procurement services,” he said.
For her part, the mayoress of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila lauded the move by the Minister of Finance and Development Planning for finally establish the long awaited PPDAB office in Francistown as it will bring its services closer to the people in the North Region.
“This office came at the right time as Francistown is already embarking on transforming into a city of investment by 2022. It is sad to note that most of the offices such as PEEPA and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre are in Gaborone. There is a high need to decentralize services from Gaborone more so that Francistown is the second city. This office will also serve the North Region at large,” she said.