By Amin Kef Sesay
APC Member of Parliament Hon. Abdul Kargbo and certain development partners have frowned at a particular clause in the 2020 Finance Bill that was tabled by the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, in Parliament which makes provision for the establishment of a Procurement Directorate at the Ministry of Finance arguing that such will really amount or be tantamount to usurping some of the important functions that the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) is legally mandated to perform.
This vociferous school of thought has strongly pointed out that for the removal of vital functions from the NPPA, such as training and recruiting of practicing procurements officers, is completely out of tune with best practice. “What is rather preferable is to fully capacitate the NPPA logistically ,by recruiting more professionals and through conducting intermittent training programmes for members of staff to raise high the bar of the institution in trying to ensure that due processes are followed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies in conducting procurement processes of goods, services and works,” a top official within the Finance Ministry ,on condition of anonymity, opined adding that to set up a separate Procurement Directorate to perform important functions that the NPPA is currently doing will only leave the latter somehow redundant. He argued that if the mandate of reviewing procurement contracts is removed from the NPPA then there will be little left for the latter to do.
A seasoned lecturer of the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) maintained that it will be a big mistake, on the part of the Ministry of Finance and Government as a whole, to shift the authority of granting sole sourcing to the Office of the President. “This could be a recipe for corruption to rear its ugly head in terms of granting procurement contracts as the main legal institution having the wherewithal to do so could have been side-lined,” he added.
An independent investigation mounted by this medium revealed that the NPPA, under the astute leadership of the Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Brima Swarray and its Board have been doing extremely well to instil best procurement practices in Ministries, Departments and Agencies. “We have witnessed how of late the NPPA has blocked leakages from taking place through bad procurement processes and by extension saving the country huge sums of money simply because of putting firmness in place in getting things done in the right ways,” Hon.Abdul Kargbo, a Member of Parliament averred furthering how the Authority has made frantic efforts to ensure that some-time next year e-procurement(electronic procurement) commences, how it has succeeded in decentralizing the tasks of the NPPA by opening up offices in the provinces, uniform price norms were put in place to guide MDAs in determining their procurement plans and how the Authority is collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure that donor confidence is reposed with regards the judicious utilization of public funds.
From feedbacks received so far in as much as President Julius Maada Bio has not yet append his signature on the 2020 Finance Bill in order for it to become law then it is high time that a thorough consideration or look should be given at that particular clause by Parliamentarians so that modifications could be made or for it to be totally expunged.