Tanzania: Public Procurement Bill Sails Through

Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday passed the Public Procurement Amendment Bill, with most of them applauding provisions that allow an open framework without the need of agreed prices set forth by government procurement services agency (GPSA).

The 40-clause bill, that seeks to make amendments to the Public Procurement Act, 2011, was approved after protracted deliberations between the government, parliamentary budget committee and legislators.

All the sides were locked in a tug-of-war as they debated a number of clauses and sections of the document with a view to refine it after the House had sat as a committee.

But at the end, the bill passed smoothly, after the Parliament had adopted a number of amendments proposed by Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango, the budget committee, under Ms Hawa Ghasia and other lawmakers.

"The Parliament has endorsed the Public Procurement Bill, which was the source of major outcry by most legislators. It will now be sent to the president for his assent," said the Deputy Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson, who expressed optimism that the bill would have farreaching implications for the nation's progress.

In their contributions for the bill, the Budget Committee and MPs lauded the decision to amend Section 50 with a view to reduce costs by departing from the requirement to procure through a closed framework, which dictates agreed prices set forth by GPSA.

Presenting her committee's views on the bill, Ms Ghasia said: "Procurement stakeholders have long been complaining that this system adds to bureaucracy and inflates prices."

Vywawa Lawmaker Japheth Hasunga (CCM) also thumbed up the bill, noting that reducing the time taken for tendering process and favouring local contractors and companies were among the positive aspects in the new bill.

"To favour local contractors, companies and experts is very important, we cannot have sustainable development if we keep relying on foreign experts, we cannot have sustainable development if we continue depending on foreign companies," charged Hasunga, who also hailed the introduction of open framework, saying the agency's agreed prices were higher compared to market prices.

Another lawmaker who contributed to the bill was Martha Mlata (Special Seats- CCM). She praised President John Magufuli for his pledge to amend the Public Procurement Act of 2011 when inaugurating the 11th Parliament last November.

Ms Mlata hailed the decision to favour and empower local firms but urged the government to ensure locals are not undermined by foreign companies, who often submit low bids with the view to scuffle local bidders.

Another contributor was Babati Rural MP (CCM), Jitu Vrajlal Son, who described it as "the most important law that will decide whether the country attain the muchsought economic prosperity or not."

In their contributions, Kangi Lugola (Mwibara- CCM), John Kadutu (Ulyankulu-CCM) and Edward Mwalongo (Njombe Urban-CCM) suggested that the government should address payment delays to curb the problem of inflated prices.

They implored the government to accelerate payments to suppliers, service providers and contractors for the proposed law to have desired effects, noting that suppliers were trying to mitigate risks, opportunities and cost of delayed payments by inflating initial prices.

"How prepared is the government to accelerate payments to suppliers and contractors? Without the government's commitment to pay contractors timely, this Act will not be successful," Mr Lugola warned. Muheza MP (CCM) Adadi Rajabu recalled that public procurement was a measure of government's performance and how it fights corruption.

"All grand corruption cases originate from government tendering and procurement," he noted, adding that the proposed bill was very important since it stressed value for money.

"Many procurement laws, including those of World Bank and European Union insist on value for money," he pointed out. For her side, Ms Amina Mollel, (Special Seats-CCM), welcomed the provision that makes it mandatory for procuring entities to consider special groups, including women, youth, elderly and persons with disabilities, but called for good implementation of the same.

Njombe North legislator (CCM) Deo Sanga said the bill came at an opportune time and will save taxpayers' money, saying a provision that affords procuring entities to procure goods directly from manufacturers and wholesalers or service providers, will help check wastage in public expenditure.

Source: Tanzania Daily News