Monday, April 19, 2021

Finance Minister Tables Public Procurement Bill

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Finance Minister Mambury Njie, on Monday 30th November 2020 tabled the bill entitled The Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) Bill 2020, before the National Assembly for consideration and adoption. In tabling the bill, Minister Njie told lawmakers that public procurement remains a powerful tool in achieving the country’s socio-economic objective, because it operates within the inter-section of Government’s regulatory and buying powers. He said the GPPA is established by the Public Procurement Act as a regulatory body responsible for the effective implementation of the public procurement law in the Gambia.

“The authority seeks to ensure fairness, transparency and non-discrimination in public procurement, in order to promote a competitive local industry and increase the confidence of various stakeholders in public procurement processes, in the country and beyond,” Njie said.

He added that the Public Procurement Authority is mandated to monitor and supervise public procurement and ensure compliance with statutory requirements, and that generally, procurement continues to be a corner-stone for the attainment of development outcomes with an increasingly growing recognition of the existence of the strong linkage between national development objectives and public procurement practices.

“The GPPA Bill 2020 aspires to address key concerns raised, to bring it to international standards, including focus on international reforms, separation of regulation and control functions, as well as the control of directives and promoting the independence of the GPPA,” Njie said.

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He added that other key issues that the bill seeks to address include preparing the ground for the E-Government procurement and open contracting initiatives, affirmative action for the marginalization of disfavored groups, separating post and prior functions and most importantly, controlling directive and exemptions. Thus complementing the democratic era brought about by the new Gambia paradigm.

Intervening on the bill, Halifa Sallah, the Member for Serrekunda, said the trend of debts in the centralized service in previous years, has been due to improper procurement procedures. Halifa said procurement is a contractual relationship between those who wish to offer services, works and goods, to procuring agencies or organizations; that it is this contractual relationship that should be made perfect to protect the public interest. He said that looking at the Centralize Service, the confirmed debt in 2019 was D680 million… and D470 million in 2021.

Halifa explained that bidders and tenderers are needed to ensure procurement organizations and budgetary agencies lead in purchasing items for Government.

Halifa said he has complained on behalf of people who have provided their vehicles for certain contracts in road building, some of whom are owed the sum of D400,000 which has not been paid for months.

Halifa asserted that this is the danger of awarding contracts without proper guidelines and monitoring and the bill presented by the Minister, must address this.

‘‘Now, it is the duty of the lawmakers to scrutinize the bill and ensure that ultimately, the public good is fulfilled and there is value for money. That is the objective,’’ Halifa concludes.

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