Remove the snakes from the dance floor – Schlettwein

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Edgar Brandt

Windhoek-One day after tabling the N$62.54 billion national budget, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein said he welcomed the operationalisation of the Public Procurement Act, which will introduce stronger checks and balances.

One of the functions of the new legislation will include instilling the capacity to determine the approximate price of goods or services before a tender process commences. This means that any amount higher than the predetermined price will automatically be thrown out of the tender process.

The regulations made under the Public Procurement Act (Act No.15 of 2015) have now been gazetted and will come into force on April 1. This reform agenda will usher in a regime that marks a complete departure from the current tender board operations, and embeds greater transparency and accountability, as well as more robust measures for local economic development and empowerment.

“Some loopholes in the previous legislation allowed tender prices to be secondary and not primary focal points. The new procurement Act is going to reverse this,” said Schlettwein yesterday morning during a budget breakfast organised by FNB Namibia and Deloitte. He noted that when tenders were inflated in the past many in the public and private sectors participated by sharing in the ill-gotten gains and he encouraged all Namibians to break the chains of corruption by reporting corrupt activities.

During his budget speech on Wednesday Schlettwein said corruption – or better, the fight against it – needs the nation’s full attention. “Whether it is the misuse of office, soliciting and receiving bribes, inflating tender prices or whatever improper conduct of persons who further their personal gain to the detriment of the common good, it must be dealt with. It is well known that the poor suffer most from the impact of corruption. Let us make sure that all parties to these illicit activities are brought to book.”

“Government has to play its role in this fight, but so has the private sector. No one should engage in this ‘dance with the rattle snake’, where the initial moves may be very pleasant, but in the end, when the snake has bitten, it becomes lethal. Let us jointly remove the snakes from the dance floor by reporting them instead of engaging them,” said Schlettwein.

In a further bid to stem the scourge of unethical dealings the Anti-Corruption Commission received additional resources of N$5 million in the budget to fulfil its mandate, which Schlettwein said should include the swift investigation and prosecution of suspect activities and persons.

“It must also engage widely in education, capacity building and preventative approaches, because stopping corruption at its roots is far better than letting it happen and dealing with the culprits thereafter,” he said.

Other entities such as the Judiciary and Attorney General’s Office were allocated additional resources of N$85 million and N$40 million respectively to enable a seamless process from reporting incidences to reaching a final verdict.

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