Corruption in public procurement to end—PPA
Corruption, collusion and fraud that have become rampant in public procurement processes are expected to end soon with the coming on-stream of the Electronic Government Procurement (EGP) system by December this year, the Public Procurement Authority has said.
The Authority yesterday, launched the first ever electronic bidding process that some policy analyst and stakeholders have been calling for years, as a way of addressing corruption in public procurement in the country.
Speaking at the launch in Accra, CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Agyenim Boateng Adjei, said the new platform will ensure that human element, which is the main cause of corruption and collusion in the sector, will be reduced to the barest minimum or totally eliminated.
"Investigations have confirmed that there is corruption going on in our public procurement systems. So as a nation we have a responsibility to look for means that can largely reduce the human elements in our systems. That is only possible under the E-government procurement system which is largely devoid of human contacts," he said.
According to Transparency International (2005), every stage of the country's procurement process is prone to corruption.
Policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, has also said that public officials in concert with corrupt businesses, seek to bend procurement rules to ensure that preferred bidders win contracts, adding that, even when a contract is subject to a tender process, certain bidders gain advantage through access to important information or exclusion of competitors from a pre-qualified list failing the proper value-for-money and vested interest test that must be done.
One notable scandal regarding procurement that recently hit the country was what took place last year at the Driver and Vehicular Licensing Authority (DVLA) where a contract sum, which was awarded on a non-competitive basis, quoted at $3.6 million for the supply of equipment to print drivers licenses metamorphosed into $9.9 million.
This, Mr. Agyenim explained that, the new system has instituted certain measures that will make it virtually impossible for the above situation to happen again.
"The whole procurement process starts with identification of needs. An entity or institution will have to identify its need or demand. That identification and its subsequent description will be done electronically. All suppliers will be made to register on the platform and they will be given unique identification reference. So, a supplier only needs to key in the unique identification reference to access the need which is on the platform.
Suppliers qualifications and verification is not done manually. The system is linked with these institutions which have got these databases sitting on them. Once you log in with your identification number, the system will interrogate you and get all these verifications done to confirm your participation in the bidding," he said.
He further explained that the electronic procurement system is designed to also accept tenders which can neither be accessed by the bidder nor the procurement manager until the expiry period of the tender.
"Upon, expiry, the system pulls out the information and the system does electronic valuation. Once the system identifies selected bidder, the system also generates a purchase order to be issued. So you can see that from the beginning of the process to the award of the contract, there is no human element. The human element is totally eliminated, he said.
It is also important to note that Parliament, in March last year, passed a new public procurement legislation ”Public Procurement Act (2015)”as part of efforts to strengthen the regulations regarding the purchase of public goods and services in a manner that promotes efficiency, fair competition and accountability in the use of the public purse.