ONGWEDIVA – The Public Procurement Bill sponsored by the Ministry of Finance, which is meant to be a tool for local development through local participation and sourcing will be re-tabled in parliament this year.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry Ericah Shafudah at the Annual General Meeting of the northern branch of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) said the aim of the procurement bill is to empower local entrepreneurs. This entails giving Namibian companies priority when tenders are awarded. The bill also aims to improve the lives of the previously disadvantaged and SMEs. In order to achieve set targets successfully, tenders with a value of N$20 million will be reserved for SMEs, while tenders valued between N$20-60 million will be reserved strictly for companies that are solely owned by Namibians. However, tenders valued over N$60 million can be awarded to foreign individuals who are in partnership with Namibians, except that the Namibian individual should have a 50 percent stake in the joint venture.
Some of the provisions in the procurement bill are already being implemented under the current Tender Board regulations. Shafudah highlighted government’s dismay over the systematic erosion of the empowerment provisions of the procurement policy. “There is an increasing phenomenon of local beneficiaries being fronted in public tender deals in the race for making quick bucks,” Shafudah said. She called on the NCCI to assist in dealing with the phenomenon and to encourage local entrepreneurs to stick to proper business ethics.
Alongside the regulatory measures of the procurement bill, the Ministry of Finance is also at work to modernize the procurement system and to develop mechanisms for e-procurement and mechanisms to track adherence to the requirements. Another serious concern is individuals and businesses that receive public tenders, but fail to declare their income for tax purposes or falsify documents. Shafudah stressed that the ministry will spare no effort to take appropriate measures against the culprits.
The ministry also intends to roll out measures to identify delinquent taxpayers and to bring them to book.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali encouraged local entrepreneurs to work hard and to plough back their profits into their communities, especially in the areas where they are the predominant players. Katali said the sustainability and the realization of Vision 2030 and all efforts towards the total economic liberation of the country is an exercise that requires progressive thinking and economic planning that will benefit future generations and not indulgence in get rich quick schemes.
By Nuusita Ashipala