The Parliament yesterday endorsed the Public Procurement Act (Cap. 410) after a heated debate that saw several proposals being amended as legislators stood firm to ensure their recommendations are taken aboard.
In what explains why the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget took time to complete the compilation of its views on the legislative piece, the debate was so intense yesterday that the former Attorney General (AG) and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bariadi West, Andrew Chenge, became the de facto spokesperson for the committee.
Mr Chenge is a member of the committee whose chairperson is MP for Mtwara Rural and former cabinet minister, Ms Hawa Ghasia.
Differences between the government side and the Parliamentary budget team started as soon as the House turned itself into a committee with the intention of concluding the process of approving all sections of the law when Ms Ghasia demanded that the government specifies and include a new aspect that specifically outlines how goods quantified as Life Saving Commodities, must be procured.
"In our , we issued a schedule of amendment to the effect that the procurement of goods - quantified as Life Saving Commodities which include medical and sanitary devices as well as medicines - must be procured but the government has been mum on this," said Ms Ghasia.
In response, the AG, Mr George Masaju, said such issues were well covered on Section 65 of the Public Procurement Act, 2011 (which is being amended).
The Section in question outlines some of the goods that must be procured under emergency conditions, including medicines and products to help the country in times of riots, war and in accidents such as floods and fire, among others.
"It doesn't only talk about medicines... It touches on all products that could be procured uncer certificate of urgency... .introducing a new section in the amendments will create the need for many other amendments in the law which may end up destroying the good intentions that are contained in the proposed law," said Mr Masaju.
He said the committee's proposal would be considered in the regulations to operationalise the law which will be set up by the Finance and Planning minister.
But that did not go down well with Mr Chenge who said such a provision must start in the law itself so it can hold a legal mandate of being included in the regulations. According to Ms Ghasia, who was clearly backed by Ms Sophia Simba (CCM - Special Seats) and Mr Kangi Lugola (Mwibara CCM), the committee had also proposed that after defining what Life Saving Commodities are, they would initiate a completely new section within the new law to guide how they (such commodities) should be procured.
At that point, nothing seemed to be moving as each party stuck to its guns, prompting the Deputy Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson, to intervene by requesting the House to start with what the committee sought to initiate which came out to be Section 24.
The Committee also decided to include a new sub section within Section Two of the Law to specifically outline the establishment of what is termed as 'Force Account'.
Various public entities would be opened by various public entities, into which they would deposit money for buying cheap products which must not necessarily undergo the entire procurement system.
Though the Government side - represented by Mr Masaju - opposed the move, it was Ms Ghasia and Mr Chenge who carried the day.
In his objection to the proposal, Mr Masaju said it would be used as a conduit for corrupt individuals to illegally benefit from government funds.
Section 11 of the Public Procurement Act (Cap. 410) sought to delete 34(1) of the Public Procurement Act 2011 so as to bar finance and planning committees in municipal and district councils from managing the procurement process.
But again, the committee was unhappy with the proposal and thus it had to be changed again to retain its original form.
Source: The Citizen