By Abubakarr Harding
Emmanuel Koivaya Amara Esq, the Director of Operations of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has requested for improved collaboration and unfettered sharing of real-time information among public procurement stakeholders in a bid to promote transparency, integrity and accountability in procurement processes.
He made that call on the 9th September, 2022, at the Freetown City Council Hall, during an awareness-raising meeting organized by the Independent Procurement Review Panel (IPRP), which attracted several key actors in the procurement landscape.
It was part of a string of nationwide stakeholders’ sensitization engagements aimed at educating the public on the mandate, core values, powers, work and importance of the IPRP in contributing to the growing efforts to improve integrity and transparency in public service delivery.
Emmanuel Koivaya Amara Esq stated that procurement is the most effective vehicle of the Government’s national development aspirations as it accounts for over 70% of public expenditures.
He said, however, procurement is prone to corruption as the key players (procuring entities, bidders, and the regulatory authority) can sometimes compromise for pecuniary and other personal interests.
When such happens, the resulting effects are always debilitating for national development, public trust in institutions, peace, stability, and the reputation of the nation, he said.
The Director of Operations pointed out that Section 20 of the Public Procurement Act of 2004, as repealed by the 2016 Act, establishes the IPRP as an independent grievance redress mechanism with the mandate to review all complaints/grievances emanating from procurement processes.
He said the IPRP has the powers to investigate and enter judgment (i.e, annul, suspend, redirect the decisions of procuring entities, etc.) on such procurement processes and award cost to the aggrieved party.
Also, he stated that such sacred duties when properly performed will not only reduce corruption opportunities, but will improve the integrity systems of the nation’s institutions and break the vicious cycle of corruption.
“This will also prevent the blatant disregard for policies and procedures, save public funds and revenues, and improve the quality of service delivery,” he underscored.
Amara made reference to some of the offences in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 that border on procurement-related issues. He called on the IPRP and other stakeholders to partner with the ACC for better collaboration and sharing of real-time information that will help the fight against corruption.
“During your investigations, the IPRP should bear in mind the sacred responsibility to always refer real-time suspected acts of corruption to the ACC,” he averred.
In his statement, the Chairman of the IPRP, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq, started off by describing the IPRP as a six man independent supervisory panel established for the purposes of addressing the grievances of bidders who feel aggrieved of procurement processes. He said that since their appointment in 2019, they have successfully resolved 13 complaints from the private sector, including awarding of costs to aggrieved parties, where they cannot reverse the decisions of procuring entities.
He encouraged the private sector and members of the public to feel free and report their grievances emanating from procurement processes to the IPRP and assured them that all such complaints will be addressed in an unbiased and fair manner.
Director of Procurement at the Ministry of Finance, Fodie Konneh, expressed his appreciation to the IPRP for the engagement with stakeholders. He referred to the job of the IPRP as crucial to national development and in promoting integrity, fair play, transparency and accountability in public procurement.