|Biti urged to implement recommendations on procurement board|
|Sunday, 19 August 2012 19:33|
Temba DubeBUSINESS associations in Bulawayo have urged Finance Minister Tendai Biti to speedily implement the recommendations of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion to overhaul the State Procurement Board (SPB). Last week, the committee recommended, among several measures, the decentralisation of the SPB from Harare to give an equal opportunity to business people from other parts of the country to bid for State tenders.
It also recommended dismantling of the SPB structure and putting in place measures to monitor performance of contractors as a way to ensure that public funds were used efficiently.
In separate interviews yesterday, business associations said the recommendations would revive entrepreneurship countrywide, if implemented.
“We welcome the recommendations because contractors outside Harare are being sidelined when it comes to state tenders. It is an expensive hustle to get them if one does not have offices in the capital. Our members have long called for decentralisation,” said the chief executive officer of the Association for Business in Zimbabwe, Mr Lucky Mlilo.
He said Minister Biti should take the recommendations seriously and act on them.
“This is a chance to level the playing field and ensure equal economic growth in all parts of the country. I strongly urge Biti to adopt the suggestions. If he does not, we might be forced to make noise to the next higher authority for action,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce’s Bulawayo chairperson, Mrs Ntombenhle Moyo, also urged Minister Biti to adopt the recommendations.
“These are very good suggestions, but they will not benefit us if they remain on paper. State procurement covers up to 40 percent of the national budget and involves at least 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. You can therefore imagine the volume of business that is being denied people in Bulawayo and other areas. We will engage Minister Biti to ensure that the recommendations are adopted,” said Mrs Moyo.
She said it was important to ensure that people in the region were given first preference when it comes to awarding contracts for Government projects in their areas.
Mrs Moyo said if tender forms were availed online as suggested, instead of having businesspeople travelling to and from Harare to get them and submit bids, an economic boom could result.
“We would like to thank the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion, for capturing and representing most of our views in their report,” said Mrs Moyo.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion chaired by Goromonzi North MP, Cde Paddy Zhanda (Zanu-PF) has just concluded an inquiry into allegations of corruption and poor decisions on the awarding of tenders levelled against the SPB by contractors and procuring entities. The SPB was also accused of failure to adequately follow up on the performance of contractors. In summing up its report, the committee said it was convinced that the present procurement system had serious shortcomings.
“This justifies the need for an urgent review of the State Procurement Act and its attendant regulations. As the Ministry of Finance conducts this review, it is the Committee’s fervent hope that the Ministry will incorporate the recommendations,” read the report.
The SPB is embroiled in court battles with contractors who have failed to fulfill contracts or are contesting the way tenders have been awarded.
Of note is the case in which a Bulawayo company is accusing the board of flouting procedures in awarding a tender for the electrification of Mtshabezi-Umzingwane water project.
The court case has reportedly stalled the completion of the project, largely viewed as a short term solution to Bulawayo’s water shortage problems.