Spot­light on pub­lic pro­cure­ment

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

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.

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