Public procurement system to be decentralised

09 May 2014 11:10am
KEETMANSHOOP, 09 MAY (NAMPA) – Namibia’s public procurement system will be decentralised in the near future to achieve a high level of efficiency, Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says.
Speaking here on Thursday at the opening of a three-day retreat of the Tender Board of Namibia, she said “ideally, procurement should be decentralised with a structure for centralised purchases of common items in order to have a higher level of efficiency.
But we have to move towards that objective in phases. Such a system requires a high level of capacity in government offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs), and maturity of bidders and stakeholders. This may happen in the long-term”.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila furthermore called on Tender Board members to work together and obtain regular feedback from Government OMAs, and to take the necessary steps to avoid delays in the tendering process, noting that procurement cannot be efficient if OMAs do not play their part.
The integrity of Board members also took centre-stage during the event, with the minister calling on members to report cases of corruption in the awarding of tenders.
Effective measures are, therefore, necessary to prevent corruption, conflict of interest and abuse in public procurement, she said, adding that high levels of ethical behaviour and the safeguarding of confidential information are of paramount importance.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also made reference to court cases registered by some disgruntled bidders, who were not happy with some awards.
Court cases are very costly and adversely impact on budgeting and the timely implementation of projects, and the awarding of the tender for the Neckertal Dam project situated west of this town is a glaring example, she said.
This project was delayed considerably because of a tender dispute and subsequent lawsuit, and when the contract was finally awarded, costs had more than doubled.
In this case, the government was dealt a heavy blow in July 2013 when it lost a legal court challenge on the awarding of the more than N.dollars 2 billion Neckartal Dam construction tender to an unsuccessful tenderer, who had vied for this project.
The unsuccessful bidder - CSC Joint Venture, which is a joint venture between Italian, South African and Kuwaiti dam construction companies - successfully managed to have the Windhoek High Court order the government to completely stop the implementation of the tender awarded in connection with the construction of the Neckartal Dam.
A full bench of judges ruled in favour of the legal challenge application, and ordered government to stop the implementation of the tender it had awarded to Italian dam construction firm Salini SpA, which eventually won the tender in the end.
In addition, the government was also ordered to foot the legal bill of CSC Joint Venture (applicant).
In September 2013, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa officially handed over the site to the contractors, Salini SpA, marking the start of the dam's construction.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that the Tender Board thus brought in legal expertise to minimize the challenging of tender-awarding decisions.
It is expected that the introduction of improved bidding documents and the training of officials and bidders will largely contribute to reduced court cases.
The retreat ends on Saturday.