In a neat set-up where there are policies and procedures to ensure compliance with legislation, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has warned that conflicting roles taken on by the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) could undermine the integrity of the public procurement system.
The Board is responsible for establishing procurement policy, procedures, ensuring compliance with the legislation, adjudicating tender award recommendations submitted by procuring entities, and supplier and contractor registration and capacity building. It also adjudicates on large contracts and deals with complaints and appeals in addition to its oversight role.
In its Country Strategy Paper 2015-2019 for Botswana, the bank notes that the public procurement market in Botswana is conducted in an above-board manner.
“Procurement is seen as a professional function in Botswana. There are specific cadres for procurement in the public service, with job description related to procurement roles and responsibilities and requirement regarding procurement education or training. A sufficient number of tenders are received in most cases, justifying that the public procurement market in Botswana is well functioning and competitive, including for participation of Small & Medium Enterprises. All contracts’ awards are systematically publicly advertised in the local newspapers,” the bank says.
However, the tone of the strategy paper is less upbeat when the bank considers how PPADB figures in the whole public procurement matrix.
“There are clear and elaborate procedures detailed in the Operations Manual that provide adequate guidance for the conduct of public procurement and leaves little to interpretation, reducing thus the risk for corruption. A major risk arises from the dual role of the PPADB in procurement process and oversight functions,” it says.
PPADB itself is well aware of such conflict and has moved to take corrective action. As part of its strategic plan which was launched in December 2013, the Board will straighten out kinks in its operations through a phased approach. Subject to the approval of parliament, it plans to transform into a regulatory authority. Speaking at the launch of the plan, PPADB’s CEO, Bridget John, said that full transition where PPADB will cease to be responsible for tender awards will be dependent on the amendment of the PPADB Act.
As part of the preparation of the its Country Strategy Paper for Botswana, the bank’s Procurement and Fiduciary Services Department conducted an evaluation of the fiduciary framework and risks in Botswana, in line with its Fiduciary Risk Management Framework for Policy Based Operations. This assessment was based on the latest diagnostics and existing laws in Botswana. The latter were the Public Finance Management Act, Public Audit Act, Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act and Public Procurement Regulations, Anti-Corruption Act.