Spotlight on public procurement
THE Anti-corruption Symposium has recommended the establishment of an autonomous public procurement authority as the key step towards combating procurement-related corruption.
The symposium which is in its second year was held under the theme ‘ Break the Corruption Chain’, as a joint initiative of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).
The symposium sought to find solutions and discussed possible strategies the country could adopt in dealing with corruption in procurement which is considered to be one of the deadliest challenges for most countries including Lesotho.
The symposium, which also marked the International Anti-corruption Day, featured representatives of the public and private sectors as well as civil society.
DCEO Director-general, Advocate Borotho Matsoso said it was ironic that while public procure- ment remained the “most vulnerable area to corruption,” procurement regulations and processes “usually do not say much, if anything at all about the ministries, yet from time to time, we get reports that Minister so and so has interfered procedurally with the procurement process”.
Adv Matsoso is on record as say- ing 99 percent of corruption cases they handled were related to public procurement.
Hlompho Matsoso from the Accountant General’s office said an independent public procurement body was essential for fighting procurement-related corruption.
She said the fact that the public procurement unit was directly under the Finance Ministry made it difficult for the system to function independently,” Ms Matsoso said, adding, the new body should “have competent staff and its own budget because right now the budget is allocated by the ministry and therefore it cannot act independently if the budget is controlled by the ministry”.
She said it was also important to enact a procurement law because currently there were only regulations governing the procurement of public goods and services.
She also called for the involvement of the civil society in the procurement system, saying this would increase transparency and combat corruption.
For his part, Procurement Policy and Advice Division (PPAD) in the Finance Ministry representative, Likotsi Leseli said a draft bill for public procurement law was already in place.
He said its enactment would give PPAD more authority and control over the procurement system than it currently has.
Dceo Director General advocate Borotho Matsoso.
Hlompho Matsoso from Accountant General’s office.