Procurement graft curtailed


By Nation Reporter

THE Electronic Government Procurement (E-GP) mechanism will help eradicate corruption in the procurement process as well as enhance competition, says Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) Director General Chibelushi Chisongole.

He said this on Friday in Lusaka during a roundtable public procurement checklist that was presented to other stakeholders for comments and reviews.

Dr Chisongole said the new procurement mechanism which would be launched in due course would bring about a fair playing field.

He said the authority had faced challenges in the administration of procurement mainly because of lengthy procurement processes and unethical conduct by procurement agencies as well as bidders. Dr Chisongole expressed confidence that ZPPA would address the challenges through the creation of information and communication technology based procurement.

“The measure is aimed at improving competition through reducing corruption and other malpractices by among other things reducing face-to-face transactions, efficient monitoring of contracts through the e-contract management system.

“The main objectives of the project are to increase disclosure availability of procurement information, enhance transparency and encourage civic participation in public procurement among others. The advantage the system has is that it can detect fraud and corruption, increase competition and monitoring service delivery,” he said.

Dr Chisongole explained that lack of capacity in procurement entities resulted in mishandling of the procurement processes and procedures, substandard bid evaluation and misinterpretation of the act.

Meanwhile, Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) executive director Chilufya Sampa said that statistics indicated that government spent around 10 percent of Zambia’s gross domestic product (GDP) on public procurement.

In a speech read on his behalf by director of Legal and Corporate Affairs Maureen Mwanza, Mr Sampa said the Commission recognised bid rigging as the most harmful anti-competitive practice in public procurement.

Mr Sampa said anti-competitive practices distorted competition and artificially escalated the cost of goods and services above the market prices.

And Consumer and Unity Trust Society (CUTS) board member Rosetta Mwape said the checklist was created out of the need to introduce simple procedures in public procurement.

Ms Mwape said the checklist would help to simplify the requirements under the law, and build-in a pro-competitive framework which procurement officers could rely on.

“Many times institutions resort to practices that turn anti-competitive in the long run due to lengthy and or complex guidelines to conduct them,” she said.