Monday, May 07, 2012
Monday, 07 May 2012 00:00
Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
THE State Procurement Board is going through a metamorphosis geared at improving its effectiveness, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said. He said Treasury was effecting changes to the Procurement Act following complaints by Cabinet Ministers over its poor showing. The amendments will provide for the creation of a board to oversee the activities and decisions of the State Procurement Board.
“I was given a go-ahead by the President to make major changes to the Act because there have been countless complaints among ministers about the Act and the State Procurement Board,” said Minister Biti.
Ministers were concerned that most Government projects were taking too long to be completed because of the SPB’s delays in awarding tenders.
In some instances, tenders were awarded to incompetent firms.
“Some Government tenders are being awarded to some charlatans who oftentimes would have tendered for the highest amounts. Some of the companies awarded these tenders don’t have the resources and are of no fixed abode,” he said.
Minister Biti said the amendments would see the minimum threshold for parastatals and Government departments’ procurement of goods and services increasing from the current US$50 000 to a yet-to-be-established figure.
The current law ignored the build–operate-transfer or build–own–operate–transfer system, particularly where the contractor was expected to invest his own money.
“We will also have an oversight board to review what would have been done by the SPB, the purpose of the oversight board is to guard the guard.
“There should be some review mechanism to make sure the person who wins a contract is double checked for accountability purposes.”
Public Works Minister Joel Gabuza said: “What gives us headaches is the problem with administration. I suspect they don’t have a staff complement to adjudicate tenders and this has resulted in delays of about three months before tenders are awarded.”
“Sometimes people would tender half the price of our average expectation and the SPB would give those companies tenders without looking at the capacity of the companies.
“When we see such tenders we sometimes recommend to the board not to give contracts to those companies because we know they are briefcase businesses but the board would insist.”