Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter—
THE Public Procurement Draft Bill, which seeks to overhaul and modernise the public procurement system is now complete and is expected to become law by June this year. Some of the key target areas of the proposed Bill include the decentralisation of procurement and transformation of the State Procurement Board from being the sole authority in awarding of public tenders to just a regulator of procurement entities (PEs). The PEs include State departments and line ministries.
Capacity building to develop skills and knowledge within the entities, performance measurement and e-procurement are some of the key deliverables. Last week, the Office of the President and Cabinet, which is overseeing the public procurement reforms, in partnership with the World Bank held a workshop in Kadoma, which sought input from Members of Parliament.
International company Crown Agents has been engaged as advisors.
“The Bill has been drafted by a legal draftsman who is experienced in international law and with knowledge of procurement laws in many countries,” Crown Agents procurement consultant Mr Nigel Shipman said. “Once enacted, it will be supported by Regulations, Guidelines and Standard Bidding Documents to assist implementation.”
Some of the key areas covered in the proposed Bill include establishment of a new regulatory authority with a seven to nine member board to be appointed by the OPC.
Some of the main functions of the authority include implementation of a monitoring system for public tenders by PEs on both compliance and performance indicators.
It will also establish and implement an independent bid challenge mechanisms. Under the proposed regulations, there will be a refundable fee for challenging tender outcomes.
“A bidder may lodge a challenge at any stage of the procurement process up to the point of notification of proposed contract award. After such notification a 14-day standstill period will apply proving a final opportunity to raise challenge before contract is made.”
The procurement entities would be responsible for awarding tenders, with an accounting officer primarily responsible for ensuring that the PE fulfils its obligations.
The procurement entities shall also ensure that adequate funds are budgeted and allotted prior to the initiating procurement processes.
Public contracts declared by the President to be secret and embassies are exempted from the open tender process.
This may also apply to State-owned companies.