WINDHOEK – The draft of the new Public Procurement Bill is likely to be re-introduced in parliament for discussion during this session before the new government assumes office on March 21.
“We have started developing the draft instruments to enable the implementation of the new system, which will be finalised, as soon as Parliament has adopted the Bill,” said Minister of Finance Kuugongelwa-Amadhila in a statement read on her behalf by her special advisor Paul Hartmann during the launch of the annual directory of the Construction Industries’ Federation of Namibia (CIF) this week. The minister was briefing the CIF members on the latest and anticipated changes to the public procurement system.
A new Public Procurement Bill was presented in Parliament in 2013, but was withdrawn to allow for more consultations. After further engagement with stakeholders, the legislators would then discuss the draft Bill.
The public procurement system is worth billions of dollars and in 2013 goods worth N$12.7 billion were purchased through the public procurement system. In 2012, the figure was at N$13.6 billion.
In relation to GDP, public procurement ranged between 10 percent and 14 percent between 2007 and 2013.
However, the Finance Minister indicated that once the new legislation becomes effective, it will be confronted with some challenges such as the constitutional organisation for procurement management, new methods of procurement and greater observance of the general principles of good governance, such as transparency, competition, accountability, fairness and value for money.
Another important aspect of the forthcoming change is that the legislation will be applicable to all public bodies, including regional and local authorities, as well as State-owned companies and enterprises.
The Procurement Policy Office, to be housed within the office of the Ministry of Finance, will be the technical arm of the minister for the conception and implementation of procurement policies of government, as well as an oversight and monitoring body to ensure effective implementation and compliance.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila explained that the office has the responsibility to ensure proper training of both officers and bidders so that procurement is performed in a professional manner.
The Central Procurement Board will be another key institution to be established under the new legislation.
It will replace the current Tender Board and will adjudicate over all major procurements, determined according to a prescribed threshold.
As the Central Procurement Board will deal only with major contracts for procurements below that threshold, public bodies will have to establish the Procurement Committee and the Procurement Management Committee. The Procurement Committee will operate at the level of the public body in a similar manner as the Central Procurement Board and the Procurement Management Unit will serve as its technical arm comprising officers who have the necessary competence.
A review panel will also be established to deal with applications for review from aggrieved bidders with a view to save time and cost by avoiding recourse to court actions. The review will be done in a fair and transparent manner and within prescribed timeframes, the ministry said.
– Additional reporting by Nampa