Friday, September 18, 2020

PPADB fights information leakage market

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board is grappling to stem the runaway tide of information leakage that threatens to disrupt the Board’s operations.

There are growing instances where premature information leakages have actually led to disruptions of project implementation with bid losers running to the courts to seek interdicts.

PPADB Executive Chairman says it must be remembered that every tender adjudication is actually a potential court case, given that it could produce a disgruntled loser.

Lionjanga called such leakages “undesirable and illegal.”

Lionjanga’s statement comes after President Festus Mogae voiced similar concerns at the recently held High Level Consultative Conference.

There are fears that a thriving market could have already been created by those seeking and willing to pay for confidential information and those in possession of such information and soliciting bribes in return for its provision.

He said PPADB is playing its part to ensure confidentiality and invited other players in the procurement line to come to the party.

With information leakages now a growing concern in the country’s multi billion Pula procurement and supply chain, Lionjanga said in consultation with the Attorney General’s Chambers they are in the process of drawing up Confidentiality Agreements.

Lionjanga said those caught leaking information at PPADB will face “severe” penalties.

He also hinted that given the magnitude of information leakages, it is possible that an illegal market had been created inside with bribes paid to officials to pass solicited information to bidders.

Leaking of information does not only present ethical problems, it also exposes PPADB to litigation which translates into court interdicts and project implementation delays.

The delays in turn inordinately affect the citizens who are the intended consumers of the projects, especially when looked against the fact that a civil suit in Botswana could drag on for up to eight years before it is disposed of by the courts.

“Evidence suggests worrying incidents of premature leakage of information to bidders by persons engaged in the evaluation of bids,” said Lionjanga.

In fact, recently together with the Director of DBES (Department of Building and Engineering services) Jimmy Modise, Lionjanga was recently ordered by the High Court Judge to supply inside information that led to a bid decision after one of the bidders went to court alleging corruption, apparently after laying their hands on pre-bid privileged information.

“If unchecked [premature leakage] may lead to creation of a ‘market’ for such advance knowledge of the result of details of a tender, leading to bidders paying a bribe in order to secure such information,” said Lionjanga.

As a way of treading the thin line of the right to know versus confidentiality, PPADB is suggesting pre-tender briefing and post tender debriefing.

It is hoped that such briefings will go a long way to allay bidders’ fears and suspicions that certain deals are swept under the carpet; fears and suspicions that are the source of soaring litigations.

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