The latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report revealed that the Ministry of Health (MoH) is procuring medical equipment and surgical instruments worth millions of pula without policy guidelines.
The committee noted that there were cases where equipment had been purchased but never used for years due to lack of proper procurement planning and policy. PAC observed that the ministry prepared a draft Botswana Medical Equipment policy as far back as 2009 and to date, four years down the line, the document was still in draft form. The committee was not happy with the response that was given by the Ministry Accounting Officer who indicated that the draft policy was being reviewed and updated before it could be adopted.
PAC is disappointed that the Accounting officer gave the same response he gave the Auditor general in 2011 but nothing has changed since then.
“The committee wass concerned about the slow progress on this matter, it was evident that the policy was not a priority for the ministry and the Accounting Officer did not want to commit himself to any target date for the finalisation of the policy document,” PAC report noted.
It recommended that the Ministry should accelerate the review and finalisation of the policy documents considering that it has been four years since it was drafted.
Speaking to Sunday Standard in an interview the PAC chairman also Lobatse legislator Nehemiah Modubule said without guidelines there is high possibility of miss use of public funds.
“Without guidelines or policies, simply it means that the Ministry is spending money without being guided by anything. They do not have guidelines to say they are following. We ask our self where they base their procurements. It is going to be hard even for the PAC to able to identify where they are going wrong because there are no guidelines or policies to base our arguments,” he said.
Assistant Minister in the Ministry Dr Gloria Somolekae could not comment on the matter saying she was on a holiday in South Africa. “I haven’t seen the report yet I am not working and I am in South Africa as we speak on a holiday,” she said advising this publication to contact Ministry offices.
Sunday Standard was unable to solicit a comment from the Ministry office as there was no response.
Dr Tebogo Magang lecturer in Corporate Governance at the University of Botswana could not believe that a Ministry can operate without guidelines. He said all organisations must have policies in place that guides all the activities that particular organisation undertake which are geared towards achieving the objective of that particular organisation.
“If you do not have those systems, procedures and policies documented it is more like saying to somebody, I am going to build houses but you do not have plans, what kind of houses are you going to build? It means the Ministry orders whatever they want to order without following any procedures.
“This creates room for corruption, embezzlement, bribery because for an organisation or Ministry to procure something from somewhere they need to at least obtain three quotations from different suppliers depending on what the policy could have stipulated and then look into issues of quality, pricing and issues of how soon this people can supply and decide on the best company under circumstances that suits the needs of that particular organisation,” he said.
He added that when there are no policies it means that the procurement is done by one person and when it is done by one person that person is going to contact a particular individual supplier out there and they will be negotiating some secrets deals. “It is a must to have policies especially when dealing with public funds,” he emphasized.